I wondered how hard it might be to review a book that was the second in a trilogy without having read the first book. James Treadwell’s Anarchy sounded so enticing, I gave it a shot. This mesmerizing and magical urban fantasy could have been a stand-alone, with characters that arc and a storyline that could have ended here.
Luckily, I and other readers can look forward to the third book in this unusual and inventive trilogy.
Combining magical elements with modern-day concerns of a world gone to pieces, or on its slow demise, Anarchy focuses on a handful of characters: the enigmatic Marina, who may not be what she seems; a courageous female corporal in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police known as “Goose,” who sets out in pursuit of a young girl accused of murder;
and a mother and twin despairing the loss of her son after she betrayed him and the aching missing piece of her dead twin sister. Their stories are linked, but the magic of this story lies in finding out what those links are and how they play into a bigger story of the world coming a little undone. There are hints of material from the first book, Advent, which make this installment even more mysterious and enticing, and all of which point to the trilogy’s main theme: magic is back in the world.
The true charm and appeal of this novel is the writing itself. Treadwell doesn’t stay in the comfort zone of normal storytelling structure and form.
He instead chooses to almost create his own genre filled with style and an intimacy that keeps us locked in to these strange characters and their intertwined fates. I was reminded of Charles de Lint and
the magical weavings of his Newford titles, which stay and haunt you long after you close the book. There are long stretches of nothing but dialog that an editor might have chopped, diced and discarded, but they work and give huge insight and forward movement to the story.
Anarchy might be described as YA urban fantasy, but I think that is too limiting. This is urban fantasy, to be sure, but unlimited in age appeal. Ignore any YA labeling and enjoy immersing yourself in a world that is both tragic and magic, lyrical and jarring, surreal and real. I look forward to reading the first book, then the final book, because with this kind of writing, the order almost doesn’t matter.