On Mondays, I’ll be posting a book review for different Indie Fantasy books. Today it’s for The Purple Door District by Erin Casey.
Bianca was supposed to attend art school in Chicago, not run for her life from Hunters. The only chance she has to survive is to find The Purple Door District, a safe haven for a parahuman like herself. When she stumbles upon a magus named Gladus and a fellow avian named Carlos, she thinks she’s found safety. But the Hunters are relentless, as is the dark force driving them.
This debut book by Erin Casey sure doesn’t read like a first published work and that is all to the reader’s delight. Instead you’ll find a fully formed world with a variety of characters and a magical system that is easy and consistent to understand.
That may sound easy to pull off – it isn’t. Not by a long shot. We are NOT treated to long pages of exposition while Casey explains her world. Instead we glide in easily to a world of characters – some vampires, werewolves, and the avian shapeshifters. It gives us a chance to really dig into the interplay between the magical groups living in Chicago under the protective shield of Gladus.
In the description of the book is the word community and this promise is really what the book is truly about. While Bianca’s situation drives the action of the narrative, the story gets you to care about the large and diverse family of beings.
The diversity in the cast of characters is felt from the very first scrumptious bite at The Guacamole Grill. With the Mexican family of Carlos and Haley, to the Native American werewolf couple of Paytah and Rozene, and the black magus Gladus, there is a lot of representation here makes the story come alive.
For me this was a huge strength to this book – and the one thing I would wish more of is that the author really dug deeper into this – let’s hear Carlos use some Spanish! What tribes do Rozene and Paytah belong too? Yes, there is a lot of magic going on but the ethnic minorities (on top of the magical slant) could be a real strength to this series that would set it apart from many of the urban fantasy books in this genre.
As a reader one thing I’ve found in other books is the introduction of so many characters, in such a short period of time, can become confusing, yet this wasn’t the case in PPD. On the reading front, it means the story moves along easily without having to go back to the beginning of the book and sort out who is who.
I think why Casey is able to achieve this is because each character has a clear voice and is unique; she/he acts consistently with who they are and the reader recognizes it.
For example, Carlos and his partner Haley have a believable dynamic that results in Bianca being rejected by the cloister at one point. Haley’s reluctance is very understandable and true to who the character is, which means you sympathize with her decision even if it seemed cruel at the time.
I found throughout the book – many of the characters, while doing actions that were horrible (yes, even Trish), had motivations for why they did what they did. This grounds the story and helps you really care about their fates.
My personal favorite is Kaitlyn, the werewolf who had suffered from an abusive relationship. Of all the characters, including Bianca, she seemed to me to have the most growth. I also enjoyed Tess.
This is why the villain stands out at the end as operating in a bit of a vacuum. He is just evil with no basis for why or how he got there – other than a need for power. This was probably one of the weaker areas of the story – and is something I see a lot in this genre. In future works I would like to see the antagonist fully developed.
With so many to people to choose from I think readers will find someone to root for, someone they love, and someone they would want to read about again. LGBTQ friendly story too which I think is also a huge plus.
Overall, an enjoyable read for me and I don’t like reading about vampires!