fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsHex and the City by Simon R. GreenHex and the City by Simon R. Green

Hex and the City is the fourth novel in Simon R. Green’s NIGHTSIDE series. I’ve been listening to  NIGHTSIDE on audio lately  because I’ve been doing a lot of home improvements, especially painting, and NIGHTSIDE is such an easy read that I don’t ever have to stop and rewind, which is something you don’t want to do when you’ve got paint all over your hands. Audio readers know what I mean.

In Hex and the City, John Taylor is moving on to his next case in the seedy and decadent Nightside where it’s always 3 AM. This time Lady Luck has hired him to discover the origins of the Nightside, something Taylor wanted to do anyway. During his investigation he meets some people/creatures who were fundamentally involved in the establishment of the Nightside. He begins to confirm his suspicion that his own mother, whom he doesn’t even remember, is someone rather important. He’s not sure what she is or what it means for his own status in the Nightside, but the more he learns, the more nervous he gets.

The NIGHTSIDE books are quick, easy, and fun reads. Their strength is Green’s setting: the Nightside is bursting with flavor. It’s the kind of place you wish you could view in person — through three feet of warded Kevlar-enhanced plexiglass. Life is both dark and colorful in the Nightside, and it’s brutal, too. Simon populates the Nightside with some crazy characters (many of whom you’ve seen before, but not necessarily all together in one city). Each installment introduces a couple more of them and also lets us spend time with some of our old favorites. In Hex and the City we meet a succubus named Pretty Poison who falls in love with Sinner, the man who sold his soul for true love. Then there’s Madman, who was sane until he got a glimpse of what lies behind “reality,” and the Lamentation who is the God of Suicides. We didn’t get to see Razor Eddie, Dead Boy, or Shotgun Suzie in Hex and the City, but I feel certain that they’ll show up in a future installment.

After reading four NIGHTSIDE novels back to back, it’s obvious how repetitive the narrative and dialogue are. Green often uses the same words and phrases over and over. For someone who read the books as they came out originally, this may not be quite as noticeable, but even in the same book Green tends to use the same phrases repetitively. Of course this isn’t a series I’m reading for its “literary merit” but it’s also one of the reasons I can’t give it a higher rating. Another reason is Green’s tendency to put John in a situation that we’re told is absolutely hopeless and then to create a deux ex machina (usually in the form of one of his friend’s, or his own, heretofore unknown superpowers) to suddenly obliterate the unstoppable foe. Characters, places, and situations in the Nightside seem to constantly trump each other with their own outrageousness, making everything a bit over the top. Still, I’m looking forward to learning, along with John Taylor, more about the Nightside, his mother, and his own destiny.

I’m listening to Marc Vietor read the audiobook version, which was produced by Audible Frontiers. Vietor does a great job with all the characters. I like the audio so much that I’ve purchased the rest of the series at Audible.

Release date: February 22, 2005. Publisher: Lady Luck has hired John Taylor to investigate the origins of the Nightside — the dark heart of London where it’s always 3 A.M. But when he starts to uncover facts about his long-vanished mother, the Nightside — and all of existence — could be snuffed out.


  • Kat Hooper

    KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.