Singer of Souls by Adam Stemple is an urban fantasy novel given to me by a friend. Street musician Douglas “Doc” Stewart moves to his grandmother’s in Scotland trying to keep his heroine habit kicked when he meets an Elf woman who gives him a gift, the ability to see the Fey. Trouble soon follows.
Singer of Souls was an interesting read, different from most other urban fantasies I’ve read. It’s a slow build to the fantastic parts, about a quarter of the book until we start seeing the magic. And then there’s still world building to be done before the plot really takes off halfway through. I was never bored or impatient though. There are shorter term conflicts to keep the action going, and Douglas’s musical perspective on the world around him is interesting and fun. That said, this is a dark story.
2—A Dark Story
Major spoilers in this section. You’ve been warned.
Despite the magic it turns out Douglas has, he spends much of the book helpless to do much beyond survive, largely because he doesn’t know how to wield said magic. He gets beaten to all hell, and there’s a serial killer priest who preys on Fey. Not that I’m sympathetic to the Fey creatures as they kill humans for ingredients and steal babies to be raised as slaves. But the Father Croser’s basement is disturbing as fuck. Then There’s Grandma McLaren’s gruesome death. And while the book ends with victory, there’s not much humanity left in Douglas.
I enjoyed the book, with Stemple’s musical descriptions, even though I don’t know music well enough to put notes to them. And while not a typical happy ending, there is something satisfying about a vengeful triumph. Singer of Souls is a beautiful, dark, satisfying story.