FALLIBLE JUSTICE by Laura Laakso (BOOK REVIEW)
Fallible Justice is, at its core, a detective novel. Yannia Wilde is a PI who must prove a man’s innocence before he is sentenced to death for a high-profile murder. But Yannia’s London is one where magical beings co-exist with humans, and justice is meted out by the all-knowing, infallible beings called Heralds. They’re never wrong. So how can they be wrong in this case?
I loved Yannia. She’s a smart woman who is struggling to come to terms with her past, and she seems utterly realistic in her thoughts and feelings. She was raised in a commune of Wild Folk, which was idyllic in some ways but barbaric in others, and she’s learning to cope with having left them for city life. Even though she can be prickly, I adored her voice (always useful with a first person narrator) and found her instantly engaging. I’d love to be friends with her.
The other characters are also incredibly well-written. I fell in love with Karrion, Yannia’s apprentice and best friend – he’s a thoughtful, funny, emo Bird Mage who is grumpy about his affinity for pigeons. If I’d have met him when I was 15, I’d have been utterly smitten! I loved watching him come into his own over the course of the novel, and I can’t wait to see him take on a larger role in the sequels. Also brilliant is Wishearth, who is a mysterious friend of Yannia’s who provides information and physical and emotional warmth to our exhausted detective. I hope we see a lot more of him. Even smaller characters, like the landlord of Yannia’s local pub, are lovingly drawn.
The most astonishing thing in this novel, to me, was the sheer accuracy of the representation of chronic illness. Yannia and I don’t have exactly the same type of chronic illness (she has EDS, while I have CFS and hypermobility), but the ways in which she copes with her pain and practices self-care are so, so familiar. She has got so much important stuff to get done, and she does it, but she does it while thinking practically about how to minimise the impact on her body. It’s a constant low-level thought for her, and something that shapes all her actions, and it was so touching to see this recognised. I almost cried, seeing my thought processes written down – I’ve never seen this kind of rep before, and I didn’t know I needed to.
Yannia is a really special heroine to me. As well as being hypermobile, she also has a relationship with a woman during the book, and a previous male lover is mentioned. She brushes off Karrion’s questioning about labels, so I can’t exactly claim her for the bi team, but again, this rep is so needed and had such an effect on me. Again, it’s just another facet to her character, rather than being a ‘special episode’, and it’s perfectly done. It’s almost like she was written directly to appeal to me!
The mystery itself was extremely well-plotted, and kept me guessing until the end – I loved the reveal! It was so clever, and made so much sense, it actually made me gasp out loud. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not an enormous fan of modern crime novels, so I loved the constant inter-weaving of the magical world and the modern. It was fascinating meeting the different kinds of magical people and learning about Old London and the magical world outside it. I really don’t want to spoil anything for anyone so I won’t say a word about what happens, other than that it’s so, so satisfying when all the threads come together. It’s quite simply astonishingly good.