Marjorie Liu's books seem to be hit or miss. I loved her A Taste of Crimson by her, couldn't get on with
The Red Heart Of Jade at all, and found some of her other books in the Dirk
and Steele series rather forgettable. The Wild Road is a real return to form, a fast-paced, gripping story with some familiar themes (romance between humans and otherworldly creatures, the Dirk
and Steele agency) but feeling very fresh.
Lannes Hannelore is a gargoyle, a winged creature who has lived for seventy years but tends to keep to himself because of a troubled past.
Lannes' closest friend, Frederick, is old now, and Lannes can see a time in the future where he has no one apart from his brothers. Lannes knows that he needs to get out more; he
magics a certain amount of glamour to hide his wings and make himself appear to
be a normal human (albeit a very tall one). The glamour doesn't work against touch, though, so Lannes has to ensure that no one touches his back or they will feel his wings.
When Lannes' claustrophobia forces him to leave a bar in a hurry, he's surprised to discover a woman trying to steal his car - a woman who is covered in blood and has lost her memory. He feels it's important to help her and tries to gain her trust. But the woman is afraid; she knows
only that she must run but doesn't know what from or where to. As Lannes tries to help her, they discover that
her lost her memory isn't her main problem. As people start dying, they uncover a long-ago secret
with significant repercussions today. Can the woman and Lannes make something of their differences
- and can they keep each other safe?
Once again, Liu has written an unusual lead character in Lannes. He comes across as
a gentle giant whose emotions lie close to the surface and whose loneliness has influenced much of his behavior. The
female lead is also interesting - she knows nothing about herself and has to learn who she is, knowing that her and others' lives may depend on what she can uncover. The Wild Road is exciting, the characters believable and engaging, and the smallish list of side characters, some of whom have appeared in previous Dirk
and Steele books, are also well-drawn. This is a really enjoyable read and an excellent return to form for Marjorie Liu.