ARC Review: EVEN THOUGH I KNEW THE END by C. L. Polk (2022)

Genre: Adult Historical Fantasy Noir
Year Release: November 8th, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Bookstore | Libro.fm

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read an eARC from NetGalley
Content warning: gun violence, ritualistic sacrifice, implied and period-appropriate homophobia

All magical detective Helen Brandt wants is to live out her days in peace Edith Jarosky. But her time is running out and an opportunity comes to get her soul back in exchange for solving a serial murder. With mischievous devils and devious angels, this Chicago fantasy noir has great worldbuilding and intricate character development.

Polk pulls off something I rarely see in fiction where a relationship drives the central plot: an established couple trying to make the future work. The two adults at this story’s core are so devoted to each other, and they are very committed to both themselves and each other’s respective dreams. The tension comes from the things they haven’t told each other, and it pays off well. To say more would be opening up this review to spoiler territory. But, if you’re into fantastic character development propped up with some stellar world-building, you’ll be delighted.

This magical version of early 1900’s Chicago is very cool, and the reader learns more about it as disparate elements start caused problems for Helen. The tension glitters as new wrenches are thrown in Edith’s plans and in her process of reconciling with her brother before it’s too late. There’s magic and some literal divine intervention. That being said, though Elena and Edith have very stylish lives, the speakeasies aren’t just for the aesthetic, and legalized homophobia definitely affects their existence. The book ends on a hopeful note, but there’s a bit of angst and literal blood to get through before it’s earned.

For people who want to read a super Chicago-y novella with a compelling mystery driving the plot, I highly recommend giving this one a read.

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