Wicked City


Alaya Johnson (Moonshine) spins another tale set in an alternate universe 1920s New York City, one that shares its streets with the Others – supernaturals including vampires. What’s a self-respecting Singing Vampire Suffragette to do but embroil herself in another mystery? This time the vampire-immune Zephyr Hollis is on the trail of whoever poisoned the blood-based intoxicant Faust that has led to the strange deaths of citizen vampires.

Hollis has personal problems of her own as she struggles to free herself from her obligation to make a wish of handsome djinn Prince Amir. She must also avoid the police who pursue her for harboring an underage vampire. She has personal conflicts with her Faust prohibition principles even as she visits speakeasies. Add a missing father and family secrets galore and this is one conflicted woman. Amir comes in handy as Hollis finds herself in scape after scape as the evidence of the murders points towards her.

Details of colorful family, friends, a knish-eating detective, and crafty Mayor Jimmy Walker all help stabilize the supernatural elements of Johnson’s tale. Although a little slow to pick up narrative steam, the ever-sparking romance between Hollis and Amir has a nicely drawn arc and payoff. And once the forces get whirling, the book becomes a page-turning delight. Intriguing clues of a sequel involves zombies next time. Perhaps only the City that Never Sleeps could hold so much living and undead.

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12 of the best stories selected from the 2012 Historical Novel Society Short Story Award


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