Review No.130 – Naked City

Naked City – Ellen Datlow (ed.)

St. Martin’s Press, 2011

The old stories have followed their tellers out of the dark woods and into the city. In New York, real estate agents struggle to shift a cursed apartment. In Israel, a boy tracks the mystery of a magician’s assistant. In cities across time, across worlds, a vampire returns home to pay his debts, a woman drinks ghosts, and a photographer of the dead finds his way into the house of Death herself. Anything can be found in the naked city…

Urban fantasy is a favourite genre of mine, in part because it’s so incredibly flexible. Several of the stories in this anthology, however, would be better classified as horror, some were so obscure and incomplete I’m not sure what they were, and a concerning number see their female characters only through the male gaze. There are some excellent reads in Naked City – Naomi Novak’s ‘Priced to Sell’ was delightfully casual, ‘Fairy Gifts’ by Patricia Briggs was intelligent and different, Lavie Tidhar’s ‘The Projected Girl’ was beautifully enigmatical, and Holly Black was at her usual high standard in ‘Noble Rot’ – but I did not warm to this anthology as a whole.

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