Title: The Wire Noose

Publisher/Author: Erik Buchanan

Pages: 115pp

Price: $3.99

Abyowith is a Stalker. In the city of Abraniotok, miscreations can be a problem. They are usually harmless, but sometimes such creatures — created accidentally or on purpose by powerful mages — run amok and have to be put down. It is the job of the Stalkers to identify and track miscreations, and then call in the Knights of the Exculpatory Order to finish the job …. Usually. When a city councillor is murdered, Abyowith and Kalitith are sent in to determine if the crime was committed by a miscreation. As their investigation takes them from the halls of power to the city docks to the sewers and back again, the two Stalkers realize that this is only one murder among many, and that the murderer will soon strike again ….

I came across The Wire Noose on netgalley. The premise sounded interesting, and I was looking for a new fantasy to read, so I requested it. After starting and abandoning several books that couldn’t hold my attention, I remembered The Wire Noose and decided to give it a try.

My apologies to the author for taking so long to read it. The Wire Noose is a highly entertaining read, with appealing characters and an engaging mystery.

I really like Abyowith. She’s not some badass, know-it-all swordswoman who can do no wrong and can out-fight and out-smart any villain. No. She’s young and she’s just starting out, and not in the career that she had intended, either. She wanted to be a Knight. When that didn’t happen (see The Trials of Abyowith), the Stalkers took her in. And while she does mostly support their mission — no one wants a horde of squirrel-like quislects running around eating all of the stone buildings in town — Abyowith is beginning to wonder if killing miscreations is always necessary and just. And what about those miscreations who can think and reason and speak?

Abyowith has a large supporting cast, with The Wire Noose focusing on just a few: Captain Marfolio, the fair-minded and happily married commander of the Stalkers; Kalitith, next in command, clever, with a keen eye for crime scenes; Yamillo, the arrogant but skillful Knight-Captain of the Exculpatory Order; Aunti, the crime boss who runs the docks, and who dislikes it when Stalks wander in and disrupt business as usual; and the tkodipin — ah, well, no. Spoilers.

I also really like the world that Abyowith inhabits.Unlike so many other fantasies, it is free of misogyny and sexual violence. Abraniotok is a multiethnic society, and (while there are disparities in wealth) skin tone, gender, and sexual orientation have no impact on occupation, social status, or political power. Anyone can be a smith or a Knight or a Stalker or a city Councillor.

I enjoyed The Wire Noose so much that I backtracked and downloaded The Trials of Abyowith immediately after I finished it. (While I had no trouble following along in The Wire Noose, I do recommend reading the books in order).

Highly recommended to fans of Company of Strangers by Melissa McShane, Succulents and Spells by Andi C. Buchanan (no relation, I think), Touched by Magic by Celine Jeanjean, and The Beast of Talesend by Kyle Robert Shultz.

[Reviewed by Rebecca Buchanan, no relation.]

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