I’ve been reading Leslie J. Anderson’s work for a long time. We’ve been in a writing workshop group together for years. We’ve co-written two books (Inklings: 300 Starts, Plots, and Challenges to Inspire Your Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories and 100 Prompts for Science Fiction Writers). You could say I’m pretty familiar with her work and she still caught me off guard with her new novel The Cricket Prophesies. I mean, I knew she was a good writer and all, but this book really impressed me.
I read The Cricket Prophesies in a single sitting about a week ago and have been thinking about it ever since. The novel is a fun and engaging mix of classic urban fantasy themes (masterfully handled) and innovate ideas that keep the story feeling fresh and unexpected. The protagonist is a young woman of color trying to make it on her own in an unsavory cityscape that is suffering from some serious economic woes (and creepier problems of the less mundane variety). Her life is complicated enough as she tries (and nearly fails) to eke out a living and then things take a turn for the weird. The Cricket Prophesies does a great job of weaving in the fantastical elements in a way that complicates and enhances the real life relatable struggles of our hero rather than eclipsing them. Cricket’s wisecracking, stubborn style reminded me a bit of Harry Dresden (Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files), but Cricket’s powers are a bit more subtle and unusual than Harry’s fireball tossing style. It’s a page-turner with lots of laughs and lots of excitement, but the story has a depth that has kept me pondering days after finishing the book. It’s well worth a read.