Review: Simantov by Asaf Ashery

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Synopsis:

Women disappear from streets, clubs, and rooftops leaving the police dazed and confused. The mystical Soothsayer Task Force must use their special skills to divine the truth and solve the mystery.

Detectives Simantov and Bitton, along with their team of mystic agents, try to make sense of the weird crime scenes and even weirder forensic findings. The victims are seemingly unconnected and the only clues to their disappearances are the small objects they leave behind; a whip, a feather, a lock of hair…

Together with Mazzy’s instincts and Yariv’s stubbornness, they realise that these abductions signal the start of an apocalypse – a war between opposing hosts of angels, the daughters of Lilith and the Nephilim. The battle for access to heaven is underway and humans are caught in the middle. But strong as they may be, angels will always underestimate the power and weight in human free will.

This is the English translation from the original Hebrew text, translated by Marganit Weinberger-Rotman.

Review:

Angry Robot releases a wide variety of Science Fiction/Fantasy/Weird stuff novels, so it is no surprise that they have opted to publish Simantov by Asaf Ashery. Originally published in Hebrew, the story is part police procedure/part apocalypse. Mazzy Simantov leads a group of mystical detectives filled with coffee ground and tarot card readers, soothsayers, and clairvoyants, to help with cases the routine police cannot solve. When women start to get kidnapped by angels, they are called in to help solve the case.

There are some things that I did not like about the novel, but I wonder if some of it is due more to the translation than the actual original text. Since I am reading a translation, there are some things that could have been treated differently in the original text. I did not like how dismissive the main character is to her husband, Gabby. We are not really told how their relationship had been before the novel, but he is to the place where he is doing things to try to win her affection, and when he gets what little he receives from her, he is grateful and she is dismissive. I don’t know if this is one of the character traits that Ashery wants, but by making her this sort of person in her personal life, it makes me feel like the rest of her roles as a daughter, officer of the law, and hero, seem tainted. There are some ways that this tenseness between husband and wife carries too much weight at the end of the novel. I also do not like that there seems to be a workaround for every situation. Like if someone gets hurt, there’s a spell for that. If some problem is unsolved, there’s a tarot reading for that. For a book that is part police procedural, all of the clues they find are not used much. Instead Ashery uses a “Well it’s because they have mysticism on their side” way of solving the crimes. The actual detective work is very slim because it is easier to solve the puzzles with mysticism.

I did not hate this novel though. It was pretty entertaining despite its flaws. Some of the writing (or translating) is a little clunky at times, but I didn’t hate it. I wish I could do half stars because it deserves more than three but less than four. I think I have to round down in this instance, but if I could, I’d give it three and a half stars. Its slightly better than average, but not by too much. 

I love that Angry Robot published this, and there needs to be more sci-fi/fantasy in translation. They are a press that always takes risks, and even though this one did not turn out perfect, the door needs to stay open for other books in translation. 

I received this ARC through Angry Robot and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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