the Little Red Reviewer

Pulpy-ish, noir-ish, sort of fun-ish

Posted on: March 9, 2011

 Something From the Nightside, by Simon R Green

published in 2003

where did I get it: purchased used

why I read it:  was craving a skinny book, and it looked fun.
I always enjoy “other world” type stories, Mieville’s Un Lun Dun, Gaiman’s Neverwhere, a lot of Charles deLint novels, where there is another world, just below ours, where strange things happen. Simon R Green’s Something From the Nightside is such a story, albeit a creepier, darker, noir-er (noirer, is that even a word?)  one.  A little bit Dark City, a little bit Harry Dresden,  Simon R. Green’s Something From the Nightside follows John Taylor, child of the Nightside, bearer of a gift that will most certainly be the end of him.

It’s been five years since John left the Nightside, vowing never to return.  He makes his living in the real world as a Private Investigator working the seediest parts of London.  All children of the Nightside have some kind of paranormal gift, and John Taylor’s gift is that he can find things. lost objects, people, locations.  When his newest client Joanna Barrett tasks him with finding her runaway daughter Cathy, John simply can’t say no.  Doesn’t hurt that Joanna is wealthy, beautiful and pays up front.

When they learn Cathy has found her way to the Nightside, John is given no choice but to take Joanna with him, and introduce her to all his old haunts. In five years, the Nightside hasn’t changed much.    the nightclub that’s locked in the 60’s still serves original Coca-cola, Razor Eddie still owes John a favor, the Collector still collects, Shotgun Suzie still loves her guns over anyone else, and everyone is still petrified of John Taylor.  I wouldn’t want to live in the Nightside, but it sure is entertaining to read about!

As John and Joanna get closer to finding  Cathy John starts to suspect something is very, very wrong.  But time is running out, and his attention is elsewhere. . . .

This book was good, not great.  It was fun and fast and I’ll bet Green had a blast writing it.  The beginning had all the pieces of a potentially great book: the secret “Nightside” part of London where rules don’t apply, John Taylor looking for his past yet afraid what he might find, an unknowable, unquestionable authority whose word is never, ever questioned, a secretive client and a missing teenager.

Unfortunately, the further I got in Something From the Nightside, the less impressed I was by it.  A story that started out as intriguing turned into predictable and too quickly wrapped up.  With all the horror-ish elements that were introduced early on, I expected an ending with a bigger bang, but it was all wrapped up fairly quickly and easily.   I also had some issues with the dialog, but that’s just me being nit-picky.

All that said, if you’re looking for something quick and light and non-cerebral and pulp-noir, Something From the Nightside won’t let you down.  Much of it (ok, nearly all of it) has a rather comic book-y feel to it.  

The funny thing is, I’m planning to give Simon R. Green another try.  the book wasn’t super awesome, but I think it was meant to be a quick & pulpy noirish mystery, and in that, it pretty much succeeded.  I’ve got a weakness for “other” world stories, I’d really like to spend some more time with John in the Nightside and learn more about his prophecy-ridden past, and maybe Green’s writing improves.

Anyone else read anything from this series?  do you have to read them in order, or can you pull a Terry Pratchett and read the first book or two to get a feeling for the world and then jump around?

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11 Responses to "Pulpy-ish, noir-ish, sort of fun-ish"

…I’ve read the whole series, as well as his other series the Drood series. They definitely should be read in order, because they do maintain a coherent timeline. They’re decent enough that I read them. If I want pulp noir that’s better I’d go with Glen Cook’s fantasy detective series, if I wanted something pulpier I’d go with Charlie Huston’s Vampire detective series. If you liked Simon R. Green and wanted something a little heavier than nightside try his Drood series, I think he’s got 4 books out on that now.

As with the previous comment I too have read the complete series of both the Nightside and the Drood books. I loved the Nightside books simply because they were a quick and easy read. They suited me perfectly for my quick holiday to Fiji as I didn’t have to think too hard and could carry them easily. Heartily recommend them for a fun read. Didn’t like the Drood books as much, thought they were a bit try hard bringing all different mythologies together, and not a fan of mixing sci fi and fantasy (Aliens and mythical creatures all together – blerch) Although you should read the Nightside books before the Drood ones as John Taylor is a character in both. All in all though, good review, you made me remember the book fondly

Cheers

Paula

After I read this book I was little underwhelmed and I sought reviews, nearly everyone of them pointed me towards the Dresden Files as an example of something similar, but done better. If nothing else I have Something From the Nightside to thank for turning me rather indirectly onto Harry Dresden.

I have a few words for you

Harry Dresden.

by Jim Butcher.

Nuff said. Dresden starts really good (if formulaic), and then grows to the point that by the 3rd book you will drool for them…absolutely salivate.

Dresdencrack (as we term it) is the best urban fantasy out there.

Trust me.

Find them

Devour them.

Scott, you took the words right out of my mouth. The Simon R. Green has already gone in the “donate to library” bag, and I think I’ll be checking for some Jim Butcher next time I’m at the library.

Sign me up as one more person who started on Green and went right to Butcher!

I’ve read the first couple of these and enjoyed them well enough. I had a little problem with the writing occasionally. Too many references to “the nightside” if I remember correctly. But I thought they were okay and I own the third and maybe fourth book in the series and imagine I will get back to them someday.

“Too many references to “the nightside” “.

Agreed! I wasn’t sure if it was a little Taylor tic of sorts, or if it was a running gag, or what. the first time it was kinda funny, the 2nd time less so. by the 15th time I was ignoring it. and if you’re purposely ignoring something the main character keeps saying, that is a bad sign!

I just didn’t get it. It seemed a bit to self-referential or something. I wanted to yell, “We get it already!”

Simon R. Green used to write some really fun stuff, back in the Hawk & Fisher days. I was not impressed with either the Nightside series or the Drood series.

I enjoyed the Nightside books, for the same reason you picked up this first one – fast, fun, and non-cerebral. They are self-referential, and they make a lot of pop culture references that are often very self-aware; the writing gets repetitive and some of the reveals aren’t. But some of the characters are wonderfully clever, and the action certainly never lets up, from memory!

That said, I was already pre-disposed to enjoy Green. His “Blue Moon Rising” and Hawk and Fisher books are just WONDERFUL – and kinda similar to these – and, at the other, sf-space-opera end, I absolutely adore his Deathstalker series.

i have just finished reading a hard days knight (the 11th) nightside book. yes it is strongly recomended you read them in order. i cannot wait untill the 12th book comes out next year. fantasy has never been my favourite genres but a friend suggested it and i have never looked back. jhon taylor and suzie shooter are the best characters i have read and a few books down the line, green really makes you care about the characters (although i dont think that is his intention). as i am waiting for the next series of books i started harry dresden last night and so far i am very dissapointed. although eveything seems to be the same, the p.i not getting ends to meet, the underworld of a world (chicagotown(i think was his term of chicagos nevernever) and the nightside. the pub with the grumpy bartender ect) i am only 100 pages into the first book and am really hoping for something beter.
i totally agree with the comments about how green wraps things up far too quickly, i was getting very annoyed at his repetitiveness on johns third eye…..”it was the easiest thing in the world for…..” a bit more explanation wouldnt go amiss and changing the words a bit, but all in all i love them.
strongly recommended to everyone i meet weather they like that genre or not.
yes they have loopholes in the story but what doesnt?
if anyone can give me more info on dresden or any other books that are more similar to the nightside than dresden i would appriciate it.

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About this redhead, etc.

Redhead is a snarky, non-politically correct 30-something who reviews mostly science fiction and fantasy and talks about all sorts of other fun scifi and fantasy geekery. She once wrote a haiku that included the word triskaidekaphobia.

This blog contains adult language and strong opinions. The best way to contact her outside of this blog is twitter, where she is @redhead5318 .

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