Review: Mike Shevdon’s Sixty-One Nails

Sixty-One Nails (The Courts of the Feyre)Sixty-One Nails by Mike Shevdon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sixty-One Nails is urban fantasy in the vein of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. Its set in London and follows the journey of an office worker into the realisation that the Fey are real and coexist alongside humanity. His adventure begins after he experiences a heart attack in the London Underground. He is revived by a mysterious pensioner calling herself Blackbird. She explains to him that he, like her, is half Fey and gives him the name Rabbit. Rabbit is being hunting by members of the Seventh Court of the Fey, the wraitkin, beings whose very touch means a horrible death. If he survives the night, he gets to see how deep the rabbit hole goes.
The cover of the book is simple, with a number of nails surrounding a sketch of a rabbit. The lettering is gothic looking and gives the impression that this is a horror novel, misleading to say the least.
The writing is nice and tidy and the open pages quickly hook one’s sympathies for the protagonist and his problems and draw you into the world. There were a few niggles in missing letters and the arrangements of some words being jumbled, but overall didn’t detract too much from the story.
The world-building isn’t all that demanding but manages to convince that there is a magical side to London hiding beneath the civilized veneer of commerce and human industry. The plot cleverly revolves around a piece of London medieval tradition known as the Quit Rent Ceremony, which involves the presentation of six horse shoes, 61 nails and two knives (a blunt one and a sharp one) to pay rent for particular pieces of real estate. The author explains what he has uncovered about the ceremony in an appendix at the end of the book, but in the story builds up a delightful mythos behind these objects.
The characterisation is also well handled and you find yourself cheering Rabbit and Blackbird on through the book, hoping that they somehow overcome their peculiarities and form a loving relationship.
Ignore the Gothic book cover and take the time to read this book. You will not be disappointed.

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