Monday, 2 June 2008

‘The Edge of Reason’ – Melinda Snodgrass (Tor Books)

If there’s one thing that is better than urban fantasy it’s urban fantasy where the stakes are raised much higher than before. Tales about werewolf packs and what vampires get up to are all well and good (except, well… you know who I’m talking about) but what’s even better are tales of global conspiracies run by secret societies overseen by strange monsters from another dimension… Charles Stross did this in ‘The Atrocity Archives’ and ‘The Jennifer Morgue’ and this is also what Melinda Snodgrass has given us in ‘The Edge of Reason’. I really enjoyed this book and if you’re a fan of urban fantasy thrillers, which really get you thinking about what you’ve read, then I reckon you will enjoy it as well.
A secret war is being fought for the souls of humanity; on one side are the Old Ones, who feed on the energy generated by religious fanaticism and superstition, while the Lumina seek to liberate the human spirit through progress in science and technology. Richard Oort is not only an Albuquerque beat cop he also happens to be a genetic anomaly in that he is one of only a few humans with no magic in him at all. This makes him extremely valuable to both the old ones and the Lumina and a chance encounter will draw him into the fray. Caught up in the middle of the struggle, Richard will encounter truths contrary to everything he has learnt. As he struggles with this (and the lengths that the Old Ones will go to in order to subvert him) it becomes very clear that the decisions Richard makes will have grave consequences for the rest of the world…
At a first cursory glance ‘The Edge of Reason’ looks like another thriller that delights in bashing organised religion and holding up science as the way forward for humanity but when you get into what it’s all about you realise that although the battle lines have been drawn they’re actually really blurry. Nothing is as clear cut as it seems and the author uses the character of Richard to explore what this means. Both sides have their pitfalls making it difficult to pick a side, if you take the book at face value then the Lumina are headed up by the Devil himself but I don’t think it’s that simple especially if you dig out the story behind other similar characters. As the fight goes on, and more humans are drawn in to replace flawed Gods, the main message seems to be one of celebrating a multi-faceted humanity over and above religion or science. ‘The Edge of Reason’ is a book that is deceptively easy to accept at face value but there is a lot more to be had out of it if you go a bit deeper.
Of course, none of the above would be any good at all if there wasn’t a good plot to back things up and ‘The Edge of Reason’ delivers in style (although slightly dry at times which I didn’t like). The line ‘there is no chance, only convergence’ pops up from time to time and this element of predestination can sometimes rob the story of its urgency. The rest of the plot makes up for this, however, with plenty of twists and turns that kept me turning the pages. I found the characterisation more than a bit sparse to begin with but this is intentional as the author feeds us little morsels of information that gradually build up into fully rounded characters. Richard himself begins the tale as a stereotypical cop, no different from any other, but by the end had become so much more. I defy anyone to feel anything other than sympathy for Richard after you read what he has been through! Things are left open ended enough for a sequel (if not more) and I’d certainly pick future instalments.
Tiny niggles to one side, ‘The Edge of Reason’ was a book that completely engaged with me and really got me thinking about what I was reading as well as thoroughly enjoying it. Recommended to anyone who wants an engrossing read…

Nine and a Quarter out of Ten


Robert said...

Wow, that's a high score! I decided to pass on the book, but I might have to give it a second look now :)

ediFanoB said...

Hi Robert,
I read a part of the excerpt and it really captivated me.

Download of the excerpt is available at:

I will by The Edge of Reason as soon as it is avaliable as a paperback.

ediFanoB said...


I appreciated your review very much.

ThRiNiDiR said...

It sounds like a fantastic read Graeme; the cover art almost put me off from reading the review.

Nancy Beck said...


Thanks for that link. I read the first page or two - and wanted it!

But not in hardcover. I don't do hardcover.

::sigh:: I, too, will wait until it's out in paperback.

Lol - the cover art over at Amazon is much better. It's red, with demons (I think) with wings (at least, that's what it looks like to me).

Here's the link, if anyone's interested:

Anonymous said...

i thought the book had an interesting premise and began well, but, unfortunately, the author's apparent obsession with the main character causes her to focus too much on his personal life and allow the sci-fi element of the story to become a distant second.