Black Blade Blues (Sarah Beauhall #1)Black Blade Blues by J.A. Pitts

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked up this book after I sat in on a norwescon session on gender in speculative fiction. J.A. Pitts was the sole male representative on that panel, and after hearing the discussion on the challenges of stepping outside ones gender in writing characters, I decided to give his book a try.

I probably set the bar pretty high as far as the content of this book goes. I’m a Seattle native, and I am part of various alternative communities. I’ve also tended to read urban fantasy written by women, as that’s what’s out there, and I like female protagonists.

And I like Sarah, the protagonist of Black Blade Blues. The first half of the book was heavy on character development. Sarah’s internal emotional conflicts with her sexuality, her relationships and the crazy events happening around her were quite real to me. As I’m all about empathy with the characters in the fiction I read, this was quite a big positive for me. I will say that J.A. Pitts did well in crafting a protagonist who’s a woman, who’s lesbian, and who’s a blacksmith.

The action doesn’t really take off until the last third of the book, but the major action sequence was dramatic, exposing the protagonists to both loss and success. Still, if you like to focus on the action aspects of urban fantasy, you may have a bit of a time getting through the first half or so.

I also rather liked the Norse mythology take on urban fantasy. Not your typical vampire and werewolf fare, even though I love that stuff too. The mythology was sufficiently familiar to me that I had a context in which to experience the story. It might be a bit more challenging for those who aren’t familiar with some Norse mythology.

This book was an obvious setup for a series, the end leaving enough open that I look forward to reading Honeyed Words.

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