Book Review: The Laundry Files series

It’s been a hard couple of weeks. Been dealing with a toddler milestone (which is going successfully, thank goodness, but is very disruptive), election year, the end of daylight savings, Ubergroup trades, and just a general bad headspace.

I’ve gotten no real work done on my novel. Blah. I’m probably going to fail NaNo again. But that’s okay. As long as I get some more writing in, it’ll be a win, yeah?

But! I needed a mental break. And a chance double encounter between a Reddit thread and a Humble Bundle offer introduced me to a new series: The Laundry Files.

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…I’ve read six books out of seven, plus two short stories out of four in the past two weeks. That’s how much I’ve been enjoying this series.

What’s it about? Well, it’s an urban fantasy series with a paranormal investigator. Wait! Don’t go. I know, I know, it’s a genre staple that’s about near done to death (never mind urban fantasy lends itself so well to that paradigm, but I digress…) but in this case, our intrepid investigator is a British civil servant. Kind of like James Bond but… not. See, Bob is a nerd. A computer geek really. And he got conscripted for service with the Laundry after he nearly leveled Wolverhampton through bad programming. Well, not bad programming –it was quite logical– but opening a nexus to another dimension isn’t quite what he was going for.

Oh. I hadn’t mentioned that yet. The urban fantasy part? The things he, as an agent of the Laundry, deals with? Lovecraftian horrors.

Now, I’m going to admit that some of the references go over my head as I am not a Lovecraft fan by any means (not a horror fan at all). For instance, in the last book I read, I was unaware that the horror being summoned actually had a Lovecraftian history, but my husband recognized the name straight off.

I mention this to point out that enjoyment of this series does not require a working knowledge of Lovecraft. If you have such knowledge, it will definitely enhance your enjoyment of the books, but it’s not a requirement.

Other highlights? For as dark as they get (because, you know, Lovecraftian horrors), they’re pretty funny. Since Bob is a government employee, he gets to deal with all kinds bureaucratic nonsense, which he pokes at and snarks throughout the series. There’s something highly identifiable with a main character who is out on a high stakes case and bemoaning how he messed up his reimbursement paperwork for his hotel.

The inevitable power creep is handled pretty well too. While Bob does get extra powers later on, initially his power creep comes in the form of wearing too many bureaucratic hats. More knowledge means more responsibilities which means more ways your job can screw you over. Bureaucracy!

With the power creep comes another interesting point of the series: shifting POVs. See, it’s primarily told from Bob’s first person narrative. However, as he moves up in bureaucracy and heads into *shudders* management he has to deal with larger cases and underlings. And since the books are supposed to be his personal reports/summaries/analyses of the particular case, that means the first person narration is broken more and more to include parts that he wasn’t actively involved in for being in a supervisory role. While it surprised me at first, it was easily adapted to as the books went on.

I may do another blog post about the last book I read in the series specifically since I’m still trying to decide how I feel about it. (Summary rant: for very good reasons we switch from Bob to his wife Mo as narrator, but there’s some characterization issues that I’m not sure I like as well as just a loss in the humorous tone that makes the bureaucratic descriptions bearable. But still a good plot and it does handle some interesting ideas when it comes to superheroes as well as some legit relationship issues and ugh. Can’t decide.)

Anyway. Laundry Files. Recommend checking it out. Meanwhile, I’m saving money for the next book in the series since I splurged on the Humble Bundle and now have PDF files for the RPG books based on the series 😀

 

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