Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth: Visit the Nightside of the future

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsSharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth by Simon R. GreenSharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth by Simon R. Green

In Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth, the sixth novel in Simon R. Green’s NIGHTSIDE series, John Taylor and Suzie Shooter have just returned from the past where they discovered the origin of John’s mother, Lilith, and witnessed the birth of the Nightside. Now that they’re back in the present, they are determined to stop Lilith from destroying what she created and remaking the Nightside in her own image.

First they must rescue John’s secretary, Cathy, who has been kidnapped. Then John wants to raise an army that they hope can stop Lilith, but he’s haunted by visions of a future where he has destroyed the Nightside and his friends, so he decides to travel forward in time to get some answers. Perhaps if he knows the future, he can change it.

Besides the future, the other interesting places John visits include the cellar of Strangefellows, Rotten Row, Simulacra Corner, the Necropolis, a faerie sweat shop, the Bazaar of the Bizarre (a reference to Fritz Leiber’s LANKHMAR books) and the Street of the Gods (another Lankhmar reference). Along the way he gets help from and/or pisses off a lot of the strange characters we’ve already met, and some new ones, too. There’s Alex Morrisey, Kid Psychoses, Tommy Oblivion, Sneaky Pete, Razor Eddie, Sandra Chance, The Collector, The Little Sisters of the Immaculate Chain-Saw, dancing ghost girls, the Carrion in Tears, Dead Boy, Julien Advent, Jessica Sorrow, Count Video, King of Skin, the Doormouse, the Engineer, Walker, the Beadle, Merlin Satanspawn, and the Lord of Thorns. He even meets the guys in suits who run the Nightside on the backend.

Eventually there’s a huge long battle when Lilith appears on the Street of Gods and everything blows up. This becomes so furiously paced, so “epic,” and so over-the-top that it is actually dull. Green hits us with everything and everyone at once — each person is more powerful than the person mentioned before, wiping away enemies with their vague superpowers such as “undoing probabilities and spreading nightmares” (what does that look like?). For all the build-up, it was a little disappointing, mostly because the action was so frantic and intangible. This part of the story, which was the climax, had little tension or impact, though several characters die. (I’m not sure if they’ll stay dead.)

In previous reviews I’ve complained about the repetitive language in the NIGHTSIDE books. It’s a little better here. Green continues to entertain with his imaginative characters and John Taylor’s amusing voice: “You here to cause trouble?” he said in a voice so deep that he must have had a third testicle tucked away somewhere.

Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth ends a major plotline in the NIGHTSIDE series. I can’t say I’m sorry since I was getting tired of Lilith. I’m looking forward to getting back to John Taylor’s private investigations in the next book, Hell to Pay. I’m listening to Marc Vietor read the audio versions. He’s fabulous.

Release date: February 28, 2006. My name is John Taylor. I’m a PI for hire in the Nightside, the dark and corrupt city within the city of London. Where the sun never shines and where pleasure and horror are always on sale—for the right price. Not a nice place to visit or a nice place to live. So you wouldn’t think I would care that it was about to be destroyed, by none other than my very own long-missing, not-quite-human mom. But I do. I was born here, I live here, and I got friends here. They might not all be acceptable in polite company, but they’re my friends, nonetheless. I know that I’m the only one who can stop her. The trick is, how to do it without fulfilling this prophecy that says whatever action I take, not only is the Nightside doomed, but the rest of the world will soon follow…

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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.

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