Book Review: Road to Bedlam by Mike Shevdon

The Road to Bedlam marks the second book in Shevdon's Courts of the Feyre series. Hot on the heels of Sixty-One Nails, the first in the series, The Road to Bedlam is guaranteed not to disappoint those readers who found themselves sucked into the magic and intrigue of Shevdon's modern world of magic.

Note: I'll do my best not to include spoilers for Sixty-One Nails here.

The series continues to follow Niall Peterson, originally an average British citizen, now a part of the Fey lineage within the human race. The Road to Bedlam, however, turns its attentions to Niall's continued training as part of the Fey, and his daughter's development of her own magical powers. When she comes into her powers much earlier - and much more strongly - than anyone expected, she becomes a target. But whose target? As Niall struggles with his oaths and his duty over his love for his family, ancient Court secrets are revealed and the vast underbelly of London's magic history is slowly uncovered.

Note: This is really hard to summarize without spoiling the first in the series, so my apologies if a) I did spoil it and b) that was a really vague, market-y bit of summary. I'll spare you any more and move onto analysis below.

As with Sixty-One Nails, the world creation here is imaginative, and, for the most part, pretty solid. There are a few blips in consistency, but nothing so major as to come to mind as I review, and most explained in some roundabout way before the story ends. As a fantasy reader, after all, I'm willing to forgive slight inconsistencies or confusing bits in light of an original and clever idea, and as Shevdon's premise absolutely qualifies for both descriptors, this remains a minor complaint.

And to this complaint, the Road to Bedlam does continue to expand and explain Shevdon's creative parallel world, existing alongside modern England. The Courts of the Feyre become more complicated, yet in the process, more understandable, as do their traditions and those who are involved with them.

Perhaps more enjoyable to modern readers, Shevdon continues his tradition of drawing on English history and heritage, though this time less so with London landmarks and more so with institutional and cultural histories. A fictional fishing village draws on the rich folklore that surrounds many similar villages, and (according to Shevdon's postscript) is based on a conglomerate of actual fishing towns throughout Yorkshire.

Bottom line: The Road to Bedlam is a near-perfect sequel to Sixty-One Nails, tying together those loose ends that linger from the first in the series, yet leaving enough doors open to continue the storyline smoothly. This novel focuses on Niall's daughter, while Blackbird (from the first novel) takes a much smaller role; if Shevdon continues to follow this pattern, readers can expect to see a world develop through the storylines of multiple characters, of varying ages, Feyre lineage and history. And if Shevdon merges the characters back into a more even role in each novel, I believe readers can expect a smoothly meshed and interesting plot.

Either way, I look forward to more in the series, and more from Shevdon. This series, thus far, is a breath of fresh air in a genre otherwise nearing the played-out and overdone - but then, that's Angry Robot's mission, isn't it?


Note: I received a copy of this title from the publisher.

Second Note: I used to work for The Osprey Group, who owns Angry Robot.

Third Note: Neither of the first two notes in any way influenced my opinion of this book.

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