Wake The Dead by Sophie Whittemore (Gamin Immortals #2)

An ominous presence awakens in the small town of Gamin.

Fairies murdered by crazed monsters. Magic that makes immortals lose their minds and their heads (literally). Whispers of a vendetta against the fairy crime lords who own the infamous Kraken Club.

One ace siren detective, Lili, is dragged back into defending her turf…and hopefully, she doesn’t die this time around.

PUBLISHER: NineStar Press
YEAR: 2023
LENGTH: 354 pages
AGE: Adult
GENRE: Fantasy

Queer Rep Summary: Lesbian/Sapphic Main Character(s), Gay/Achillean Secondary Character(s), Bi/Pan Secondary Character(s), Genderqueer/Nonbinary Secondary Character(s), Trans Secondary Character(s), Ace/Aro Main Character(s).

*I received a free review copy in exchange for an honest review of this book. 

WAKE THE DEAD has a murder mystery involving a dead fairy crime lord and a killer who was put out of her mind in order to commit murder. It's not the first time that people have had trouble figuring out why someone's dead in this town chock-full of magical beings, so Lili is pulled into the mess again while she's still mourning the loss of her girlfriend and dealing with the restoration of thousands of years of memories which don't necessarily fit the person she's trying to be now. 

The narrative style is very flippant and self-referential, beginning with jokes in the chapter headings and place descriptions, then becoming more frequent as the book continues. I think I understood most of them, but there might’ve been a few where the cultural reference went over my head. It’s very jokey, peppy style that reminds me of HOLD ME CLOSER, NECROMANCER by Lish McBride. WAKE THE DEAD eventually clarifies the fate of Joe, Lili’s girlfriend, who ended up incapacitated after the events of the first book. Much of Lili’s internal life is wrapped up in the idea of Joe and the shape of her absence. It is also very thoroughly a sequel. Trying at times to connect the reader to what happened in the previous book, it does so in a way that would mostly work for those who just need a refresher, but wouldn't makes sense for someone who read this without the first book. Generally, that’s fine, because this is the second book in a series, but the thing that bugs me about this in particular is that the story is so referential that what seems at first like a new story with the same core characters gradually reveals itself to have so many of the same players and concerns that it’s mostly like yelling, “and another thing”, when someone thought you were done talking. It’s a story I liked, and I'm particularly interested in the co-worker-at-a-distance dynamic between Lili and the detective, most of my favorite moments happened around him. Most of the catharsis and emotional weight in WAKE THE DEAD is dependent on circling back or dealing with things and people that needed more closure than the first book was able to provide.

I guess it did technically have a major plot line that starts in this book and is resolved which wasn’t present previously, but the threads of that are increasingly dependent on things established in the first book such that by the time the resolution happens for the inciting incident it feels like a sideshow rather than the main plot. 

Lili is still an immortal with depression, but one of the big changes to her narrative style since the first book is that she remembers her identity and the general shape of her powers, referring to them much more often in her internal monologue and with the other characters. I like the friendships between the main characters, Stace is a fun addition to the group, though I’m not totally convinced they’re a mundane human, even after finishing the book. Jason is mostly away, dealing with other stuff like trying to not get stuck doing the family business, and Patty comes into her own when she’s not competing with him for the narrative’s attention. 

It seems like more books are planned, which is good because it ends is a bit too abruptly to be a satisfying conclusion of the series. I do find it intriguing on a kind of meta-level to take more than one book to finish dealing with a villain who has powers based around forgetting.

Moderate CW for grief, cursing, misogyny, blood, violence, murder, death.

Minor CW for forced institutionalization, stalking, drug use.

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