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Review: The Gods of Gotham

June 10, 2012

Timothy Wilde is a bartender in New York, saving money so he can win the heart of Mercy Underhill.  A fire sweeps through Manhattan destroying his savings and leaving his face disfigured.  Without a job or a home, he reluctantly accepts a job his brother, Val, has arranged for him in the newly formed New York City Police Department.

While making his rounds as a “copper star” one evening, Timothy comes a across a petrified young girl who is covered with blood.  The girl is panic stricken and whispers to him that “they’ll tear him to pieces.”  That gets Timothy’s attention, but the girl turns out to be unreliable so Timothy’s not sure what to believe.  He does a little investigating and uncovers something horrifying.

I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, but The Gods of Gotham, by Lyndsay Faye, has gotten so many raves reviews that I had to give it a try.  I’m rather sad to say that, once again, I’m not in agreement with the majority on this one.  I didn’t hate the book, but I didn’t love it the way most people have.  I have a feeling it’s me, though, so if you enjoy historical fiction at all, you should give this book a try.

I found the details of New York in 1845 fascinating and enjoyed reading about the founding of the police department.  I even found Timothy to be a sympathetic character.  My problem with the book was the flash jargon that was used throughout the story.  Flash was a language used by the criminal element at the time and a little of it would have been fine but, after a while, the use of it pulled me out of the story.  Faye does provide a glossary of flash terms at the beginning of the book but not all the terms that are used are included.

I’m sure Faye did a lot of research before she wrote this book because it felt historically accurate.  It’s rich in detail and covers an interesting period of history.  I liked The Gods of Gotham, but didn’t love it, but don’t go by me since I’m in the vast minority.

Challenges: Amy Einhorn Challenge

Review copy provided by Penguin Books.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
22 Comments leave one →
  1. June 10, 2012 7:37 am

    I really liked the historical aspect of the book, but wasn’t thrilled with the theme. I very rarely read crime novels.

  2. sandynawrot permalink
    June 10, 2012 8:39 am

    I’m sure I would love the setting but if I have to refer to a glossary, you’ve already lost me.

  3. June 10, 2012 10:07 am

    Sorry about the flash language. Maybe that would bug me.

  4. June 10, 2012 11:04 am

    I’m going to read this one, but not really in a hurry to do so. I’m not a fan of historical fiction either, but the ones I do seem to enjoy tend to be mysteries or police procedurals.

  5. June 10, 2012 11:19 am

    I haven’t read this yet either, but jargon tends to annoy me a lot!

  6. June 10, 2012 12:19 pm

    I’m sorry this one didn’t work for you. I always wonder, when I don’t go with the majority on a book, what I missed!

  7. June 10, 2012 3:10 pm

    This sounds like something I would really like. Thanks for your comments.

    Elizabeth

  8. Patty permalink
    June 10, 2012 3:35 pm

    Fascinating comments…I don’t think it would be a favorite of mine either!

  9. June 10, 2012 5:32 pm

    Sorry you didn’t love it, thanks for the honest review. It does sound like an interesting book and I’m a fan of this genre.

  10. June 10, 2012 5:53 pm

    I’ve just finished this one on audio…I think the narrator adds a lot to the flash vocab even though it was confusing at times…it never got in my way though…I’m a big fan of “old NY” though so I’m sure my response is a little biased 🙂

  11. June 10, 2012 7:25 pm

    I am all for the crime, but i am not sure about this one…

  12. June 10, 2012 7:37 pm

    I enjoy historical fiction and am rather excited about this one… I hope I like it *fibgers crossed*

  13. June 10, 2012 7:48 pm

    Sorry this did not work well for you. I am waiting for my copy from PBS – can’t wait to try it.

  14. June 10, 2012 9:37 pm

    The historical detail does sound really interesting, but not enjoying much historical fiction myself I have a feeling it wouldn’t be for me either. Thanks for the review.

  15. June 11, 2012 5:41 am

    Its a bummer that the flash language pulled you out of the story. I think its tough to walk that line between too little and too much jargon in a historical piece like this one.

  16. June 11, 2012 8:18 am

    I’m really curious about this one. I do enjoy historical fiction, so I will have to give it a try.

  17. bookingmama permalink
    June 11, 2012 10:16 am

    I’m so sorry that this one didn’t work for you. I’m in the “it’s outstanding” camp!

  18. June 11, 2012 12:04 pm

    That first paragraph was depressing. Losing everything and then becoming disfigured, too? Not a good start.

  19. June 11, 2012 5:14 pm

    I kept thinking this was a paranormal books but I’m guessing no if it is historical fiction. I guess the line “They will rip him to pieces” sounds like a vampire or something.

  20. June 11, 2012 11:42 pm

    Huh. If it needs a glossary, incomplete even, I’m not sure I’m up to it right now. Need something a little faster moving. I always think it’s nice to read a dissenting view.

  21. June 12, 2012 1:51 pm

    Before I discovered this community and began my book blog, I didn’t read historical fiction except for books like Agatha Christie, books that might also be considered in that genre but were also mystery, thriller. ..something like that.
    This community opened my eyes to historical fiction (and YA) which is great but I’ve learned that I’m generally not a big fan of books about historical figures, or books about a group or time period like The Tudors. Some I’ve read because the book got amazing reviews but, as you found with this book, I found a lot of historical fiction isn’t for me. I enjoyed The Postmistress and Lisa See’s books and I like books set around WW II, though

    I will give The Gods of Gotham, partly because it’s an Amy Einhorn book, a try at somepoint. I love the NYC setting, the Ireland/Irish connection and that the book charts the beginnings of the NYPD. But I am concerned about the Flash jargon…

    I think it’s great you gave this book a try and read it all the way through. Imagine how many books you’d receive every week if you adored all historical fiction! Carl would have to buy you a cottage just for your books! (Heee, heee!)

  22. June 15, 2012 9:09 pm

    Oh bummer. Sorry it wasn’t a stellar read for you. I have the book and am looking forward to it. Hopefully it will be stellar for me. 🙂

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