Undergrounder – J.E. Glass

When the mob tries to kill her in what seems to be a case of mistaken identity, journalist Alex Bailey is rescued by a woman whose appearance has kept her underground all her life. As Alex quickly understands, Lee Farrow isn’t the only Undergrounder, there’s a whole other city beneath the New York streets. Alex also realises that despite her unusual face, Lee’s feelings and reactions are so very human. Until they’re not.

There are very good things in this Beauty and the Beast retelling, some excellent even, and others that don’t make complete sense. It’s also longer than it needs to be but that’s a pretty common debut flaw. On the positive side, it allows the reader to get to know the MCs very well and they’re both worth it. I also found most of the secondary characters really interesting and the worldbuilding is great.

There are a few frustrating inconsistencies, however, and I’m left with more questions than answers. I won’t list all my questions since some would be spoiling (and maybe I’ll get the answers in a future book), I’ll stick to a couple: why the 2003 setting? How do Georgia and Alex go from being strangers to BFF in the blink of an eye? I don’t know if this is book one of a future series or if it’s supposed to be standalone, which would change my feelings on the ending. I would read a second book.

As I said, there are a lot of good things in this book, and none of the flaws stop me from looking forward to the author’s next book. I do have an issue with something that has zero bearing on the story and could have very easily been avoided. I get having grown up reading Harry Potter. I read the books to my child before she could read by herself. But can we please not pretend that having a character read them is necessary? With all her pop culture references, Lee could have chosen any number of books. Let’s stop plugging books by authors who mean us harm, okay? As this book and many others before prove, there’s a lot more to fantasy that the boy wonder and his TERF author.

Update, March 27th, 2022: In the final version, the author removed the references to HP. I have no reservations anymore, I absolutely recommend this book, and look forward to the sequels (at least two have been confirmed).

4-stars

Undergrounder @ amazon

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