Unicorn snuff porn. There, I’m throwing the central plot element into the open. During the book launch there was a general tension in the air that this was just too disturbing (yet intriguing at the same time). I say it’s a wicked twist on the norm, but nothing too above the standard horror-crime fair of late.
To put it simply, I didn’t want this novella to end. Ball presents a dark world where fey and human interact on a rather unwholesome level. Gone are the general romantic stereotypes of fey and unicorn – who needs that anymore? – and in place are realistic, gritty characters you want to get behind (or injure), in a world that still retains the everyday feel of an Australian city. Ball’s writing is sharp, the pace wonderful, the plot racing along to the inevitable resolution.
The problem, however, is that it did end. Ball’s idea and the associated writing is so good that this should have been a prime candidate for a novel, not a novella. If I were the publisher, I would have asked Ball to extend the prose, to meat it out, because he was on to a really good thing. Yes, novellas have their place, but because this one has a noir side to it, the detective work is much too quick. Aster follows one (count them, one) lead, and that lead is correct. Where is the fun in that? There is also little accountability with City Homicide, and so on, that a freelance PI still has to do before running off on their own (but hey, it’s a good throwback to its noir roots). I just felt a little cheated, but that is not the author’s fault – it is good they made me feel cheated, it is wonderful they made me want to read on after the novella ended.
I personally found the unicorn snuff porn scene really gruelling to read. Editing it, I read it more times than most probably will, and found it more and more confronting to read with each iteration. But I find it interesting how other people can read something like that, in terms of the treatment of a young girl, with such ease and dismissal. I think that's quite fascinating commentary.