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A young detective who specializes in “tiny mysteries” finds herself at the center of a massive conspiracy in this beguiling historical fantasy set on Manhattan’s Westside—a peculiar and dangerous neighborhood home to strange magic and stranger residents—that blends the vivid atmosphere of Caleb Carr with the imaginative power of Neil Gaiman. New York is dying, and the one w A young detective who specializes in “tiny mysteries” finds herself at the center of a massive conspiracy in this beguiling historical fantasy set on Manhattan’s Westside—a peculiar and dangerous neighborhood home to strange magic and stranger residents—that blends the vivid atmosphere of Caleb Carr with the imaginative power of Neil Gaiman. New York is dying, and the one woman who can save it has smaller things on her mind. It’s 1921, and a thirteen-mile fence running the length of Broadway splits the island of Manhattan, separating the prosperous Eastside from the Westside—an overgrown wasteland whose hostility to modern technology gives it the flavor of old New York. Thousands have disappeared here, and the respectable have fled, leaving behind the killers, thieves, poets, painters, drunks, and those too poor or desperate to leave. It is a hellish landscape, and Gilda Carr proudly calls it home. Slightly built, but with a will of iron, Gilda follows in the footsteps of her late father, a police detective turned private eye. Unlike that larger-than-life man, Gilda solves tiny mysteries: the impossible puzzles that keep us awake at night; the small riddles that destroy us; the questions that spoil marriages, ruin friendships, and curdle joy. Those tiny cases distract her from her grief, and the one impossible question she knows she can’t answer: “How did my father die?” Yet on Gilda’s Westside, tiny mysteries end in blood—even the case of a missing white leather glove. Mrs. Copeland, a well-to-do Eastside housewife, hires Gilda to find it before her irascible merchant husband learns it is gone. When Gilda witnesses Mr. Copeland’s murder at a Westside pier, she finds herself sinking into a mire of bootlegging, smuggling, corruption—and an evil too dark to face. All she wants is to find one dainty ladies’ glove. She doesn’t want to know why this merchant was on the wrong side of town—or why he was murdered in cold blood. But as she begins to see the connection between his murder, her father’s death, and the darkness plaguing the Westside, she faces the hard truth: she must save her city or die with it. Introducing a truly remarkable female detective, Westside is a mystery steeped in the supernatural and shot through with gunfights, rotgut whiskey, and sizzling Dixieland jazz. Full of dazzling color, delightful twists, and truly thrilling action, it announces the arrival of a remarkable talent.


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A young detective who specializes in “tiny mysteries” finds herself at the center of a massive conspiracy in this beguiling historical fantasy set on Manhattan’s Westside—a peculiar and dangerous neighborhood home to strange magic and stranger residents—that blends the vivid atmosphere of Caleb Carr with the imaginative power of Neil Gaiman. New York is dying, and the one w A young detective who specializes in “tiny mysteries” finds herself at the center of a massive conspiracy in this beguiling historical fantasy set on Manhattan’s Westside—a peculiar and dangerous neighborhood home to strange magic and stranger residents—that blends the vivid atmosphere of Caleb Carr with the imaginative power of Neil Gaiman. New York is dying, and the one woman who can save it has smaller things on her mind. It’s 1921, and a thirteen-mile fence running the length of Broadway splits the island of Manhattan, separating the prosperous Eastside from the Westside—an overgrown wasteland whose hostility to modern technology gives it the flavor of old New York. Thousands have disappeared here, and the respectable have fled, leaving behind the killers, thieves, poets, painters, drunks, and those too poor or desperate to leave. It is a hellish landscape, and Gilda Carr proudly calls it home. Slightly built, but with a will of iron, Gilda follows in the footsteps of her late father, a police detective turned private eye. Unlike that larger-than-life man, Gilda solves tiny mysteries: the impossible puzzles that keep us awake at night; the small riddles that destroy us; the questions that spoil marriages, ruin friendships, and curdle joy. Those tiny cases distract her from her grief, and the one impossible question she knows she can’t answer: “How did my father die?” Yet on Gilda’s Westside, tiny mysteries end in blood—even the case of a missing white leather glove. Mrs. Copeland, a well-to-do Eastside housewife, hires Gilda to find it before her irascible merchant husband learns it is gone. When Gilda witnesses Mr. Copeland’s murder at a Westside pier, she finds herself sinking into a mire of bootlegging, smuggling, corruption—and an evil too dark to face. All she wants is to find one dainty ladies’ glove. She doesn’t want to know why this merchant was on the wrong side of town—or why he was murdered in cold blood. But as she begins to see the connection between his murder, her father’s death, and the darkness plaguing the Westside, she faces the hard truth: she must save her city or die with it. Introducing a truly remarkable female detective, Westside is a mystery steeped in the supernatural and shot through with gunfights, rotgut whiskey, and sizzling Dixieland jazz. Full of dazzling color, delightful twists, and truly thrilling action, it announces the arrival of a remarkable talent.

30 review for Westside

  1. 5 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    Only in the Westside could a woman with blood in her hair stroll down the sidewalk on a weekday afternoon, wearing nothing but a slip and hearing only the chattering of a few far-off birds. Gilda Carr is a young woman who looks into what she calls “tiny mysteries.” Leave those murders for someone else. Big mysteries mean big problems and Gilda has had enough of those. Her mom died when she was a kid, and her father, one Virgil Carr, aka “Clubber” was not only the founder of a notorious Westsid Only in the Westside could a woman with blood in her hair stroll down the sidewalk on a weekday afternoon, wearing nothing but a slip and hearing only the chattering of a few far-off birds. Gilda Carr is a young woman who looks into what she calls “tiny mysteries.” Leave those murders for someone else. Big mysteries mean big problems and Gilda has had enough of those. Her mom died when she was a kid, and her father, one Virgil Carr, aka “Clubber” was not only the founder of a notorious Westside gang, he later became a notorious cop, vanishing in a notorious disappearance some years back. W.M. Akers - image from SqueakyBicycleProductions Speaking of vanishing, in this magical reimagining of the Manhattan of 1921, considerable bits of the island have been doing just that. Odd objects, coffee pots, stairway railings, entire buildings are being swallowed up by something. This is not totally new. Akers notes an apocryphal 1628 letter from early arrival Peter Minuit about the oddity of the west side of this newly colonized island. (Our homes shift on their foundations…Our wood comes loose from its joints, and my dreams are plagued by visions of pestilence, stigmata, and the armies of hell.) Things tend to degrade faster, rust races instead of creeps. Machines cease working. Guns fail, automobiles sputter. The trees do pretty well, though, growing tall and fast. Streets become streams instead of the other way around. Occasional waterfalls form and descend from rooftops. It is where Gilda lives. In a brownstone facing Washington Square Park (mom came from money). The American Seamen’s Friend Society Sailors’ Home and Institute - image from Corbin Plays And then there is the increasing vanishing of humanity. Enough so that when over three thousand people went pffft! on the Westside in 1914, thirteen miles of fence was erected down Broadway to separate the Westside from the rest of Manhattan. Not her problem. She can get back and forth through the security gates readily enough. Gilda is engaged by one Edith Copeland. It seems Mrs Copeland had mislaid a glove, one of a pair her oft-absent husband had given her as a gift. She would like the glove found and returned, as she does not want to face awkward questions about its absence. But in this version of New York, tiny mysteries have a way of leading to very large questions, and Gilda’s gumshoeing leads her to a very, very dark side of the city. Fourth Precinct Police Station - Image from Patch.com The action is non-stop, rising to breathless as we near the end. Sleep is in short supply for Gilda, in inverse proportion to exhaustion and perpetual movement. There is a pretty neat explanation for it all, but don’t think about it too hard. Just roll with it. Gilda is a particularly appealing hero. Not just for the expected intelligence, wit, and derring do, (a hair gel for heroes?) but for being a fan of the New York Giants baseball team. I imagine Akers’ work in creating a game, Deadball – Baseball with Dice, might have been mined for this part of Gilda’s profile. Greasing the wheels of forward plot movement, Gilda picks up a few more tiny mysteries to solve, which lead to other leads. Delightful, this element. This stop is on your route – image from NY Subway Mosaics Damon Runyon and Gangs of New York kept running through my head as Akers introduces colorful character after colorful character. Underworld sorts, of both the thuggish and white shoe varieties, loom large in this landscape. And the baddies balance out very nicely between hims and hers, leadership and field force. There is bootlegging, gun-running, (sins of the fleshier sort are kept on the down-low here), arson, assault, kidnapping, police corruption, and the odd murder. Plenty of dark deeds to keep the juices flowing. Bex Red’s house – 75 ½ Bedford Street is 9.5 feet wide - image from The Daily Mail Akers offers a wonderful portrait of what Manhattan might look like if part of it was stuck in some version of the Victorian age, while the other part had moved on to the next century, and if raging against the dying of the light were made into a nice business opportunity. He makes fun use of a variety of Manhattan landmarks, and notes others in passing, in case anyone wanted to structure a walking tour. Bex Red, an artist, lives in a singularly narrow building. A train station and its associated tunnels has been put to alternate use, as has one of the city’s most famous theaters. Penn Station is not what it was. (It still isn’t) A seaman’s hotel, notable for being a place where some of the survivors of the Titanic were put up, remains a going concern. A police precinct noted here is still in operation. A socially conscious village church is given a trot or two across the stage. Such things may be fun for non-Noo Yawkahs, but are an absolute delight for us natives. The Longacre Theater- image from The Shubert Organization Gripes - It seemed that there were occasional bits that did not compute. For example, the next day after a particularly large vanishing, Gilda heads to Ebbett’s Field in Brooklyn for reasons that were inexplicable, to me, anyway. Did I miss something here? I found Akers’ explanation for the underlying goings-on less than entirely persuasive. And I thought Gilda’s solution to a particularly dark situation required a rather large leap of faith. Judson Memorial Church But I would not worry too much about all that. Fact is, this was a wonderful read. Fast-paced, engaging, with an appealing lead, a creative take on a fantastical alternate Manhattan, a very colorful supporting cast, and plenty of twists and turns. You might need to catch your breath a bit after you put this one down. Gilda Carr may be in the business of solving tiny mysteries, but reading Westside is nothing less than HUGE fun. Penn Station - image from NY.Curbed.com Review posted – May 10, 2019 Publication date – May 7, 2019 =============================EXTRA STUFF Links to the author’s personal and Twitter pages Items of Interest -----Interview - NPR - Steeped In Fantasy, 'Westside' Novel Follows A Young Detective's Quest For Clues by Scott Simon -----Music - East Side West Side - Yes, I know the actual title is Sidewalks of New York, but the stretch seemed worth it. I seem to have come across (and reviewed) a fair number of novels in the last few years in which a Fantastical New York offers a setting, and I am aware of at least two more in my personal pipeline coming up. Here are the ones I could think of ----- Zone One -----The Golem and the Jinni ----- Ahab’s Return -----Winter’s Tale

  2. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Greendale

    I hurled my filthy slip down the hallway, to enjoy the cavelike air in stark naked splendor. A flimsy mystery with all the pittfalls of a male author crafting an inauthentic female protagonist. Akers rarely provides a firm sense of place or atmosphere. Some interesting ideas simmering below the surface that never fully materialize. Westside is imaginative at its best; half-baked and hollow at its worst.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    Westside has more thick, juicy layers than a weighty feast at a New York deli. Let's lift the crusty bread on this one..... Gilda Carr dabbles in tiny mysteries and likes it that way. The smaller, the quicker, the better. It's September of 1921 in Washington Square and she's headed to Manhattan. Edith Copeland, wife of Galen Copeland who owns a shipping firm along the river, has hired her to find a missing ladies leather glove. The gloves were an unexpected gift from her husband and she lost one w Westside has more thick, juicy layers than a weighty feast at a New York deli. Let's lift the crusty bread on this one..... Gilda Carr dabbles in tiny mysteries and likes it that way. The smaller, the quicker, the better. It's September of 1921 in Washington Square and she's headed to Manhattan. Edith Copeland, wife of Galen Copeland who owns a shipping firm along the river, has hired her to find a missing ladies leather glove. The gloves were an unexpected gift from her husband and she lost one while shopping. Sounds like a doable for petite Gilda Carr. While on the hunt, Gilda spots what seems to be an exact match in a small shop in Thieves' Market on the Eastside. She slips the single glove into her bag as she walks toward the door. The owner is on to her and he is just about breathing down her neck as she hits the sidewalk. In hot pursuit the owner is joined by others as Gilda barely makes it to the gates of the Westside. The men stop in their tracks. No one enters into the darkness of the Westside unless you're looking for trouble. No one except the likes of Gilda with that glove. And that single glove is the makings for some big time crime in New York City. Westside grabbed me by the collar from the get-go with the main character of Gilda Carr. The dialogue was crisp and biting and the atmosphere was nicely sullied with bits of reality here. W.M. Akers lines this story with the impact of gang life with boys not out of short pants carrying bloody sticks. It's also the Prohibition Era with bootlegging and booze wars happening around every corner. We have dedicated police and those on the take. There are businessmen with smut on their sleeves and a city divided into sunlight and darkness. It was all there in Westside. But then W.M. Akers couldn't quite put down his shovel. There were just too many incidents and too many characters on the loose. More is just more. It seemed that Gilda Carr had taken too, too many bites out of the Big Apple. Some fine-tuning and editing should have pared down the last chapters. I still have hope for Gilda Carr if there is another book in this series. Just take the essence of the beginning of the book and hold it steady in the next. I received a copy of Westside through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Harper Collins and to W.M. Akers for the opportunity.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Wolf

    After an initially interesting premise, the story bogs down in the middle. I ended up skimming through the last third or so of the book -- it just did not hold my attention.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Stoolfire

    I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Even though the Westside of Manhattan is a dangerous wasteland that is inhospitable to modern (1920s) technology, home to strange magic and many disreputable residents, Gilda is proud to call it her home. Gilda is in a way a detective who specializes in "tiny mysteries" - those impossible puzzles and that keep you awake at night and chip away at you; questions that can ruin marriages and friendships. These cases distract her from I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Even though the Westside of Manhattan is a dangerous wasteland that is inhospitable to modern (1920s) technology, home to strange magic and many disreputable residents, Gilda is proud to call it her home. Gilda is in a way a detective who specializes in "tiny mysteries" - those impossible puzzles and that keep you awake at night and chip away at you; questions that can ruin marriages and friendships. These cases distract her from her own grief and the impossible question of how her father died. The investigation of her newest tiny mystery about a missing glove leads her to a massive conspiracy that may even connect to her father's death. Westside by W.M. Akers is a marvelous debut historical fantasy novel. There's so much to love about this story. It has nearly everything I could have asked for. I particularly enjoyed the well-drawn cast of characters (there are a lot of them). Gilda herself is quite engaging. I certainly appreciated her strong will and bravery. The alternate 1921 Manhattan's Westside is practically a character in its own right as well. Akers' world building is great and very visual. The story could have benefited from a map, though, but perhaps there's one in the final edition. The mysteries are so much fun to puzzle out with Gilda, especially in a setting where things and people have been known to just disappear like they never were. The author also does a good job handling the breathless action and all of the twists and turns (there is a lot going on) that will keep you right on the edge of your seat. Overall, Westside by W.M. Akers is a fast-paced debut that will keep you turning the pages to keep up with Gilda. I have a feeling you will like the author's brand of historical fantasy with an engaging mystery and fully formed characters if you're a fan of Neil Gaiman and The Alienist by Caleb Carr. I can't wait to see what this author does next!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Megan Lyons

    I've been done this for about a week, but I've been struggling with writing a review. I know this was a fairly strong book. The writing was good. There were some fabulous, smart lines, both in dialogue and in the general text. The world building was interesting and consistent. The main character was odd; to me she read a bit like an anti hero with some of her actions, but she was quirky and still sympathetic. There were also some larger than life side characters. It had an interesting meld of ur I've been done this for about a week, but I've been struggling with writing a review. I know this was a fairly strong book. The writing was good. There were some fabulous, smart lines, both in dialogue and in the general text. The world building was interesting and consistent. The main character was odd; to me she read a bit like an anti hero with some of her actions, but she was quirky and still sympathetic. There were also some larger than life side characters. It had an interesting meld of urban fantasy detective story and alternate history, giving it quite an original feel. All in all it was really well done, and I feel like I should have liked it more. However, I just couldn't really get into the story, and I kept putting it down and reading other stuff. I think the way I read the book may have done a disservice to it- I started it at the airport and read it throughout a vacation, while I had a fever. The combination of being sick and being busy on my vacation had me reading in little spurts, so this no doubt impacted my experience reading it. Even so, I can't seem to put my finger on what kept me from getting into the narrative. So all in all, this was a solid book that I just couldn't quite connect with. *I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books and Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review*

  7. 4 out of 5

    Valentina

    A lot certainly happens in this novel. Lots of people fight, die, disappear, reappear, argue; there are lots of locations, with clever worldbuilding that is, I think, the strongest part of the novel. The problem is that the plot is not particularly engrossing. I found myself bored, my mind wandering off even while my eyes continued to read. That is never a good sign for me. Neither the protagonist nor her conflicts were very interesting, unfortunately. There were some pacing issues, as well, tha A lot certainly happens in this novel. Lots of people fight, die, disappear, reappear, argue; there are lots of locations, with clever worldbuilding that is, I think, the strongest part of the novel. The problem is that the plot is not particularly engrossing. I found myself bored, my mind wandering off even while my eyes continued to read. That is never a good sign for me. Neither the protagonist nor her conflicts were very interesting, unfortunately. There were some pacing issues, as well, that made some scene confusing and muddled. This is also the fault of not having strongly defined characters. In some scenes where the dialogue was not clearly marked, it was tough to know who was speaking, and that is always because the characters do not have clear "voices". As I said, the worldbuilding was strong, and mainly why I kept reading. Still, I'm not sure I would necessarily recommend it to others.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Hélène Louise

    I'm very frustrated with this book,which I liked for many reasons but still had to give up at 40 %. There was absolutely nothing wrong about it, I appreciated the main character, the background was rather fascinating, as the idea of the heroine solving "tiny mysteries" as a job. I loved some funny metaphors and some witty dialogues. But alas the rhythm didn't agree with. At each chapter, at each different scene even, I had to make an effort, the kind of effort one does at the beginning of a new re I'm very frustrated with this book,which I liked for many reasons but still had to give up at 40 %. There was absolutely nothing wrong about it, I appreciated the main character, the background was rather fascinating, as the idea of the heroine solving "tiny mysteries" as a job. I loved some funny metaphors and some witty dialogues. But alas the rhythm didn't agree with. At each chapter, at each different scene even, I had to make an effort, the kind of effort one does at the beginning of a new read. I was always rather lost and had to concentrate to keep on with the story's thread. I still don't know is the problem was mine and mine only (it was quite a vicious cercle as I couldn't read much on the book in one go and kept switching to my others current reads) or if it was objectively a flaw. The only explanation I found was that a certain absence of perspective, all the book's aspects were spread out equitably: the background, the mystery, the heroine's history, all characters, main, secondary and in passing ones... my brain couldn't manage to understand which elements were important to remember and which I could let go. And as my memory is not my best feature... A shame as I don't like giving up reads I don't objectively dislike, especially Netgalley ones, but sometimes one must admit defeat! (I thus won't give any notation to the book, which I wish I could have finish, as it deserved). (I thank Netgalley and HarperCollins Publishers for sending me the ARC in exchange for my honest review)

  9. 4 out of 5

    ❆Francesca (Mother of Cats) Selina❆

    *I received an ARC from he publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for a review.* “I answer little questions. Those impossible puzzles that burrow into our brains like splinters and keep us awake at night. I solve the mysteries that spoil marriages, ruin friendships, and curdle joy. A murder is a dull thing. It simply ends a life. Tiny mysteries destroy us." A quirky mystery set in a grim Manhattan full of colorful and intriguing characters. CHARACTERS: Gilda, the protagonist, is fierce, ruthless, b *I received an ARC from he publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for a review.* “I answer little questions. Those impossible puzzles that burrow into our brains like splinters and keep us awake at night. I solve the mysteries that spoil marriages, ruin friendships, and curdle joy. A murder is a dull thing. It simply ends a life. Tiny mysteries destroy us." A quirky mystery set in a grim Manhattan full of colorful and intriguing characters. CHARACTERS: Gilda, the protagonist, is fierce, ruthless, blunt, brave...she’s the perfect embodiment of the Westside. She’s the (at times) anti hero you can’t resist rooting for. Beside her there is a huge assemble of secondary characters, each of them well developed and full of personality, ideals and different morals. THE WORLD-BUILDING AND PLOT: The story takes place in a Manhattan divided by a fence after the mass disappearance of people. The Eastside is what we would consider “normal” while the a Westside has been invaded by magic which has warped the landscape and the rules of nature: it’s a gritty place full of rough people that take the “hit first, question later” motto as a life rule. The plot involves a mystery, one that starts small and almost inconsequential but turns into something big, with huge implications and consequences. It brings to the light the ultimate mystery of why the Westside is slowly dying, a question that no one has been able to answer...so far. WRITING: The author masterfully weaves multiple threads and creates a multilayered story full of three dimensional characters. The writing fully describes the bleakness of the ambient but doesn’t shy away from sprinkling in moments of happiness and lightheartedness. The language isn’t very flowery or artistic but I felt that it worked beautifully with Gilda’s personality. If you enjoy historical semi-fantasies and intriguing mysteries with great characters behind it, you need to pick this up, W. M. Rakers definitely grabbed my attention and I cannot wait to see what will come next.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Faith

    I didn’t like the book, but I absolutely hated the narration of the audio book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

    I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The nitty-gritty: A weird and wonderful, multi-layered story with a tough-as-nails heroine, this delightful fantasy offers up plenty of mysteries, both big and small. "I answer little questions. Those impossible puzzles that burrow into our brains like splinters and keep us awake at night. I solve the mysteries that spoil marriages, ruin frien I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The nitty-gritty: A weird and wonderful, multi-layered story with a tough-as-nails heroine, this delightful fantasy offers up plenty of mysteries, both big and small. "I answer little questions. Those impossible puzzles that burrow into our brains like splinters and keep us awake at night. I solve the mysteries that spoil marriages, ruin friendships, and curdle joy. A murder is a dull thing. It simply ends a life. Tiny mysteries destroy us." Getting a hold of a review copy of Westside proved to be challenging, but I’m so glad everything finally came together, because I enjoyed this book immensely! This is Akers’ debut novel, but it turns out he's also an experienced playwright, and that experience really shines through. Westside is a strange, quirky and unexpectedly violent story that takes place in an alternate version of 1921 New York City. In Akers’ Manhattan, the city is divided into the Westside and the Eastside by a fence, put up after a rash of mysterious disappearances on the Westside threw the city into turmoil. Now the Westside is home to those who are willing to put up with its peculiarities. People continue to disappear on this side of the fence, as do objects. Buildings crumble and even disappear completely in the middle of the night, appliances have stopped working, and even guns no longer fire. In the middle of this slow-building chaos lives Gilda Carr, a woman who has lost both parents to the Westside and now works as a private detective of sorts, solving “tiny mysteries.” Unable to afford to live on the more affluent Eastside, Gilda is content to stay in her family townhouse alongside her close friend Hellida, who lives in the apartment next door. When the story begins, Gilda has taken on the job of finding a lost glove, misplaced by one Edith Copeland during a night of drinking and frivolity. Finding a lost glove is exactly the kind of tiny mystery that Gilda loves to solve, but as her investigation leads her from the Eastside to the seedier parts of the city, she finds herself in the middle of a much larger mystery involving smuggling, illegal moonshine and even murder. As Gilda dives deeper down the rabbit hole that is the Westside, she discovers the answers to all her questions, including the ultimate mystery: why is the Westside slowly dying? A tear in reality, secret tunnels full of shadow monsters, and an alternate New York all play parts in Gilda’s dangerous adventure. One of the joys of reading this book is solving the mysteries alongside Gilda. Strange things are happening on the Westside that can’t be explained. The banister in Gilda’s house disappears one day, as if it had never been there. Her neighbor Hellida wakes up to find her coffee pot is simply gone. And then there are the missing people, gone without a trace in the middle of the night. For this reason it’s considered foolish to go out after dark, and so Westsiders are prone to staying inside at night. Luckily there is a reason for all these odd disappearances, although it does take most of the book before Gilda discovers the truth. There are a lot of characters in this story, but despite that fact, Akers does a great job of making most of them feel three-dimensional. Gilda in particular was wonderfully drawn, a short-statured woman with a huge personality who practically leaps off the page. Gilda is fierce and plucky, ruthless at times and always brave. I have to admit, though, that I didn’t always like her. Despite her undying loyalty to her friends, she has a mean streak that showed itself in sudden bursts of violence. But living on the Westside, she’s been forced to cope with so much loss and danger that I had to forgive her for those moments. Her rough personality is tempered by her heartbreak over her missing father, a detective who simply disappeared without a trace one day. I also loved her interactions with her friend Hellida, a woman who used to be her nanny long ago and now rents the apartment next door to Gilda. The two women are wonderfully supportive of each other, and when they are tragically separated at one point in the story, I just about lost it. Other memorable characters include Cherub, a young man who is part of a Westside street gang called the One-Eyed Cats, one of Gilda’s oldest friends; Andrea “Barbie” Barbarossa, the “moonshine queen of New York City” who sells rotgut liquor out of the basement of a church; and Glen-Richard Van Alen, the undisputed ruler of the upper part of the Westside, a man known as the Firecracker who has armed his followers with guns, guns that didn’t work on the Westside until recently and now pose a huge threat. Akers adds some wonderfully poignant, emotional moments to his story, which is one reason I loved this so much. What could have devolved into a farcical action story is elevated by small—tiny, even!—moments that made me smile. For example, there is a running thread through the story of Gilda’s love of baseball. She spent hours as a child going to Giants games with her father, and she continues to study baseball stats as a way of keeping his memory alive. There is also the mystery of a song that one of the characters’ can’t get out of his head. No one seems to know the name of the song, but Gilda takes on the grueling task of finding out, another thread that winds its way through the story and is tied up neatly at the end. Even the mystery of the missing glove is resolved, bringing the story full circle. We’re also drawn into the pain Gilda still feels over the disappearance of her father, yet another mystery that has never been solved. Victor Carr, despite being absent from the story, looms large in Gilda’s memories, and so the reader also feels terrible about his loss. Akers gives us plenty of backstory, telling of his rise to fame with the NYPD, only to fall after he fails to solve the case of a missing girl. His story is part of why Gilda is drawn to mysteries in the first place, and it makes for a wonderful way to connect the two characters together. With a huge cast of characters and a multitude of side plots going on, the plot of Westside becomes convoluted and overstuffed at times, especially in the second half when Gilda’s hunt for the glove uncovers a much bigger mystery. It felt at times as though the sheer amount of story elements was just too big for the author to handle, and it was during these moments that I lost the thread of the plot. But this is my only complaint. Akers eventually corrals all the disparate parts, and it’s a testament to his writing skills that he’s able to juggle so many things at the same time. The story ends with a perfect, emotional scene that had me grinning from ear to ear. I loved Westside , and if you also have a penchant for beautifully written, intricately plotted stories with a touch of the weird, filled with larger-than-life characters, I urge you to read this book. With thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss, Goodreads, the author and the publisher for multiple review copies. My cup runneth over!This review originally appeared on Books, Bones & Buffy

  12. 5 out of 5

    Halley Sutton

    A rich, complex, terrifying and beautiful world, a fantastic, smart, capable, vulnerable heroine, and all the mysteries—tiny and enormous—a reader could want. Would love to revisit this world in future series offerings!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Hixson

    Westside by W. M. Akers is one hell of a debut. I went into this book really loving the premise of a detective who solves small mysteries like a missing broach or jewelry is lead into this huge mystery involving murder and supernatural elements. The voice is similar to Neil Gaiman's and reminded me of Neverwhere meets Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norrell wih a little Blake Crouch's Dark Matter. It's a good Historical Fiction Mystery that adds a dash of Supernatural to it. This novel is a trip tha Westside by W. M. Akers is one hell of a debut. I went into this book really loving the premise of a detective who solves small mysteries like a missing broach or jewelry is lead into this huge mystery involving murder and supernatural elements. The voice is similar to Neil Gaiman's and reminded me of Neverwhere meets Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norrell wih a little Blake Crouch's Dark Matter. It's a good Historical Fiction Mystery that adds a dash of Supernatural to it. This novel is a trip that is not easy to predict where it's going, and what a third act. I would like to thank HarperCollins Publishing and Netgalley for giving me the advanced uncorrected e-proof to read in exchange for an honest review. This book will be made available to the public on May 7th. Plot: We follow Gilda Carr who lives on the Westside of New York in the early 1910's.Gilda makes a living solving small mysteries like a missing glove or jewelry. The New York you know, isn't the Westside it's on the East, in this city the westside is the Eastside's cursed twin. The westside is full of decay and hollowed out building, there's no working electricity and gun don't seem to work as the barrel quickly rust up. The westside is ugly but Gilda just calls it home. She is content solving her small mysteries a trait passed down from her father who was detective on the police force for the Westside, her latest case is finding a woman's gloves that her husband bought her. This should be a nice small mystery, but this case opens her life up to murder, supernatural, and a case she had almost given up on the disappearance of her father. What I Liked: Really unique way of describing people, that makes it easy to picture them. Really good world building and the history of Westside New York. I liked the device of small mysteries it gives you a slight Nancy Drew/Encyclopedia Brown vibe with a way darker tone which I enjoyed. I loved the characters of Gilda and her backstory and Virgil Carr her father's backstory. For side character's Ugly was my favorite, a henchman that clearly likes Gilda and all her moxie. The third act was great and the mastermind's reveal was pretty shocking and did not see coming. What I Disliked: At the beginning I was super confused whether Glinda was on the Eastside or the Westside, 40 pages in it got easier to tell. It took a while to get differentiate all the side characters from one anther and how they relate. I wanted more payoff on Brass's song It felt like we were on it too much for it to make little impact to the story. Recommendations: I really think you should check this book out it has a couple problem but really solid debut novel. If you like the way Neil Gaiman writes when he matches the real world with fantasy. If you like the colliding of genres like historical fiction with mystery and/or supernatural. I rated this book a solid 4 out of 5 stars.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lynn Williams

    4.5 of 5 stars https://lynns-books.com/2019/05/23/we... As soon as I saw Westside I had to have it – put simply, it called out to me – mystery, history, fantasy, all rolled into one. Hell yes. And, within the first few pages it had captured my imagination. I was hooked, and in a nutshell I just adored it. The writing was superb and I fell in love with the main character. A debut, a standalone novel and an author that I will definitely keep an eye on. Westside is a fascinating and dangerous place to 4.5 of 5 stars https://lynns-books.com/2019/05/23/we... As soon as I saw Westside I had to have it – put simply, it called out to me – mystery, history, fantasy, all rolled into one. Hell yes. And, within the first few pages it had captured my imagination. I was hooked, and in a nutshell I just adored it. The writing was superb and I fell in love with the main character. A debut, a standalone novel and an author that I will definitely keep an eye on. Westside is a fascinating and dangerous place to live. Here we hark back to New York during the 1920’s. A time of prohibition, bootlegging and gangs except of course this is a different New York almost like a parallel universe or a place where at a certain point history took an alternate direction. In this version a strange affliction seems to have overcome Westside. Shadows take on a life of their own after the sun sets and people mysteriously disappear. Things in fact deteriorated so badly at one point that a huge barrier was erected to try and prevent the ‘phenomena’ spreading to the more prosperous East. As the story begins we meet Gilda Carr, a detective who specialises in tiny mysteries. She’s been contacted by a Mrs Copeland, from the Eastside, who is missing a small, leather glove and is keen to have it recovered. Gilda takes the case, expecting it to be fairly easy, little does she know that her life is going to be thrown into turmoil. There is a much bigger mystery surrounding Westside and the darkness that permeates its streets and the mystery of the missing glove are all connected. What I really loved first and foremost about Westside is the imagination. Akers has taken a familiar setting and given it a whole new twist. Whilst the Eastside is forging ahead into a modern age the darkness on the Westside seems to corrode and corrupt whatever it touches seemingly rolling back the years and giving the area a different feel from its more affluent neighbour. Residents disappear, homes stand empty, modern inventions simply don’t work and yet the people who remain stubbornly cling to their homes, determined to remain in their own neighbourhoods even if their family, friends and belongings are simply vanishing around them. Westside is a place where people don’t go out at night – and it’s not because they’re frightened of pickpockets or thugs – they’re scared of blinking out of existence. What happens to them – where do they go – I was beyond intrigued. There is also of course the mystery that takes on a life of its very own. Starting as a small thing of very little consequence it grows unexpectedly into a riotous and sprawling mass that takes us down secret tunnels, uncovering coincidentals that twist the mystery even further – again, I was captivated. On top of this there’s the ‘feel’ of the place. Westside is dark and dangerous. The characters who still live there are tough and violence and gangs are rife. Law enforcement is practically non-existent and in fact the residents police themselves for the most part. This is a place with a history that runs deep with grudges and secrets just waiting to be shared. It also has a seedy underworld at its core that threatens violence and more often than not delivers. This is a bloody story and no prisoners are taken so be warned. Gilda is a great character. Her father was a detective with a larger than life reputation who also fell victim to the ‘shadows’. Gilda has never got over the loss and in fact a large part of her story revolves around denial and avoidance which is why the mystery she takes on threatens to unravel everything she holds dear, including her own sanity. She’s one tough cookie with a rather bad ass reputation herself. To be honest, she sometimes makes it difficult to like her with her hardened exterior and yet I did like her, very much so. I loved her determination to see through a job that became scary in the extreme. I love some of the friendships and ties that she held dear and I didn’t want the shadows to catch her up – so there it is – fear for a main character, or more to the point fear that the author will kill them off – could there be a truer test of whether a character has grown on you or not. I can’t really tell you much more without stepping out of the dark and shining a light on spoilers and I’m not going to do that. This is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s wonderfully dark and enticing and yet at the same time deceptively endearing. At its heart it’s a coming of age story really. Here is a young woman who has lost her family and now stands on the edge of losing everything else and yet in spite of the threat she still wants answers. You can’t help but feel for her has she plows through the unknown in this twisting story of self discovery. In terms of criticisms – I don’t have any. However, I realise that some readers might find this too heavy in terms of the speculative aspects. This is a historical mystery but it relies heavily on the fantasy elements. I didn’t find the final reveals odd or bizarre but I’m not sure if I’m the best judge of that or not because I do also like the ‘odd and bizarre’ so my tolerance levels might be higher in that respect. I don’t really like comparisons but I perhaps would agree with the likeness to Neil Gaiman that was used in the original blurb, almost think Neverwhere (although a bit more brutal here imo) meets Gangs of New York set in a parallel universe that is being devoured by dark shadows. Simples. I realise this is a bit rambling but that quite often happens to my reviews when I really enjoy a book, I become slightly incoherent and meander as I hop from thought to thought. All I can say in my defence is that I thoroughly enjoyed this and recommend it to dark fantasy/urban fantasy lovers. I received a copy through Edelweiss, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks. The above is my own opinion.

  15. 5 out of 5

    unknown

    Wavering between three and four stars; the hardboiled prose is delightful, but the narrative often misses a step when transitioning between scenes. There are lots of moments where the plot will twist on coincidence or leaps of intuition that are a bit too tough to accept, even in a book in which evil shadows eat people.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lashaan Balasingam (Bookidote)

    You can find my review on my blog by clicking here. Have you ever been drawn by a book by the marketing behind it that casually compares it to authors or books that you have loved in the past with all your heart? While I remain skeptical most of the time, I sometimes land upon some that make the most tantalizing comparisons that I would have never imagined possible. From W.M. Akers, readers get to enjoy an unimaginable concoction of historical fiction, mystery, and fantasy in what is being praise You can find my review on my blog by clicking here. Have you ever been drawn by a book by the marketing behind it that casually compares it to authors or books that you have loved in the past with all your heart? While I remain skeptical most of the time, I sometimes land upon some that make the most tantalizing comparisons that I would have never imagined possible. From W.M. Akers, readers get to enjoy an unimaginable concoction of historical fiction, mystery, and fantasy in what is being praised as a story with hints of Caleb Carr’s ability to create vivid atmospheres and Neil Gaiman’s imaginative power. If you believe that I wasn’t sold already sold by the sound of that, let me tell you that the blurb made it all even more compelling, with little to no chance that I could ever turn my back on this little gem. What is Westside about? Set in 1921, the city of New York finds itself split in two where violence and hostility reign in the Westside, while peace and prosperity conquer the Eastside. Following a young detective who specializes in “small mysteries”, the story begins with the case of a missing white leather glove that tosses Gilda Carr on a wild goose chase that leads her deeper into unknown territory with hints of bootlegging, smuggling and corruption at the heart of it all. Despite what she deeply desires, she finds herself stuck in a chain of questions and answers that lead her to uncover the truth behind herself, her parents and the city in which she lives. Uncovering the truth behind the mundane questions of the townfolks might have helped her avoid grief so far, but the things she’s about to discover will bring her to face the truth head-on, even if it means she’ll need to spill some blood along the way. For a stand-alone novel, this story was a ride that never stopped for a second to allow the reader to take a breath. Not only is the world in which you’re immersed is mysteriously enchanting thanks to the unusual disappearings that let you believe that the night takes a life of its own when you least expect it, the story continuously dished out countless side-plots with little mysteries that kept you wondering what exactly was going on and who was responsible for everything. W.M. Akers’ portrayal of the city was also brilliantly handled and allowed the reader to feel like there were always eyes watching over your back as the heroine embraced her role as a private detective and challenged herself to the fullest throughout the whole story. After all, the things she dares to do, despite the adversity she faces, is quite impressive. The fast-paced story also turned out to be an advantage as it constantly fed the reader with backstory and clues to understand the bigger scheme at play. Where Westside might have stumbled a bit was in the number of characters who were presented throughout the story. Although it might have been a bit excessive, it still kept the plot refreshing and dynamic as it gave the author room to work with more players and develop the various mysteries that crawled around the streets of New York. Let’s not forget to mention that even with the relatively huge number of characters, they all never seemed unidimensional or unnecessary. Their personalities simply shone despite the darkness in which they bathed. While they might evolve in accordance with the city, the city also seemed to transform according to its citizens. In fact, the time frame—especially how the author played with the Prohibition era—made this low-fantasy story just that much more intriguing and captivating, as it allowed the author to discretely play with historical elements. Westside is a stylish and creative mystery that beautifully balances its fantasy elements with thrilling action scenes in a sinister and enigmatic alternate Manhattan. Thank you to HarperCollins Canada for sending me an Advance Copy for review! Yours truly, Lashaan | Blogger and Book Reviewer Official blog: https://bookidote.com/

  17. 5 out of 5

    La La

    The last 40% of this book was a disaster. I always give that a bit more hate because when the front half of a story is well written and it tanks in the second half, I feel robbed of my time. It felt like another writer took over after 60%. An inept writer. These sorts of situations always pique my curiosity about the reasons for it. Did they work on the first half of the book for years and then decide to finish it up quickly? Did they grow tired of the characters? Did the publisher push them to The last 40% of this book was a disaster. I always give that a bit more hate because when the front half of a story is well written and it tanks in the second half, I feel robbed of my time. It felt like another writer took over after 60%. An inept writer. These sorts of situations always pique my curiosity about the reasons for it. Did they work on the first half of the book for years and then decide to finish it up quickly? Did they grow tired of the characters? Did the publisher push them to get it finished? I'd love to interview these authors about their reasons, but I'm sure after crucifying their book that's never going to happen. Ha ha. The last 40% of the story was one grusomely graphic gratuitous fight scene after another; with the characters suffering injuries that would layout the strongest and fittest of men, but they were able to miraculously walk it off, time after time, and enter the next brawl (sometimes minutes later) with no residual effects of the previous battle. Keep in mind this is not a superheroes or superpowers story. One character element that severely disappointed me was, in the beginning the female MC was solving the mysteries with brains, intuition, perseverance, and attention to detail; however in the second half she was like a trained MMA fighter/Navy Seal hybrid stabbing and pistol whipping her way through the underworld. We need to start celebrating women's strengths in books: intellegence, stamina, consentration, agility, and quick-wittedness... overcoming the enemy in nonviolent ways; not turning them into killing machines. Equal does not mean same. And the mixed messages sent about guns in the story was dizzying. It was like the author was trying to play both sides of the fence. The strong initial plot dissolved by the end of the story, too. Maybe that's why the MC was turned into a brawler, because there couldn't be a conclusion based on intelligent plans and fact-finding, without taking miles more time to figure things out, and successfully weave in all the plot threads. And the last major snag with me is the paranormal/scifi element itself. There ended up being basically no rules for it, or solid explanation. The flimsy guidelines were not enough to support it as a major plot element, so that was a disappointment, too. It's too bad because the first half of the story was wonderful. I was approved for an eARC, via Edelweiss, in return for an honest review.

  18. 5 out of 5

    peg

    I don’t usually read fantasy but this tongue-in-cheek detective story about a different New York City in the 1930’s was rather fun. It especially excelled in WORLD BUILDING which is my favorite ingredient of this genre.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    WESTSIDE is a novel of alternate history and parallel lives, but it is actually more mystery than Sci-fi/Fantasy. The voice of Gilda, the protagonist is witty and irreverent. I loved her right away. She's a plucky problem solver and her "tiny mysteries" she sets to solving all lead her to discovering the truth about why the Westside of Manhattan turned dark and DIFFERENT than the Eastside in 1914. This is a top notch mystery that will appeal to historical fiction fans as well.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    Westside is a dark, and spunky new Fantasy novel set in an alternate reality of Prohibition-Era New York. This was the first novel I had the joy to read by W.M. Akers, and it will not be my last! Gilda Carr is a feisty new protagonist, born and raised on the mysterious and segregated westside of New York City, where gangs and bootleggers run free, the cops are crooked, and unexplained shadows will snatch your loved ones from existence without warning. Gilda’s recently departed father, an NYPD cop Westside is a dark, and spunky new Fantasy novel set in an alternate reality of Prohibition-Era New York. This was the first novel I had the joy to read by W.M. Akers, and it will not be my last! Gilda Carr is a feisty new protagonist, born and raised on the mysterious and segregated westside of New York City, where gangs and bootleggers run free, the cops are crooked, and unexplained shadows will snatch your loved ones from existence without warning. Gilda’s recently departed father, an NYPD cop and former gang-leader, vanished like so many others after becoming obsessed with solving the frequent disappearances on their dark half of the city. Now Gilda makes a small and gritty living by solving “tiny mysteries,” like what happened to Mrs. Copeland’s other glove. These unobtrusive, silly problems for which she is hired to solve, are a way for Gilda to do what she’s good at (solving puzzles and getting her hands dirty) without having to face past traumas or find herself buried in the mysteries that killed her father. Or so she thinks. I showed up for the premise, stayed for the action-packed opening sequence and fast paced, uniquely plotted story, and will absolutely return for the lovable characters. I recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction and mysteries just as much as I would recommend this to Sci-Fi/Fantasy readers. I think this novel crosses those genres with grace and grit, so if you’re thinking of changing pace, this is a fun novel to check out! Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Collins Publishers for the advanced copy!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Pat Doucett

    I am sorry to say that I couldn't finish reading this book and consider a one star rating being generous on my part. This is one of the most bizarre books I have ever read. It takes place in the early 1900's during prohibition and apparently New York was divided into the West Side and the East Side but to have "shadows" devouring people and objects disappear into the shadows became a bit much after a while. I gave it a chance because I only threw in the towel after reading 150 pages but then I c I am sorry to say that I couldn't finish reading this book and consider a one star rating being generous on my part. This is one of the most bizarre books I have ever read. It takes place in the early 1900's during prohibition and apparently New York was divided into the West Side and the East Side but to have "shadows" devouring people and objects disappear into the shadows became a bit much after a while. I gave it a chance because I only threw in the towel after reading 150 pages but then I considered it a waste of time. I appreciate having received an ARC from the publisher, author and Goodreads, but as I tell my one granddaughter - the beauty of the world is that God made us all different. I'm sorry I could not complete this assignment and give you a full review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

    *3.75 This had a lot of really neat aspects and I love the concept of the Westside/Eastside situation, but there was also almost too much crammed into a three-hundred page book. Definitely not a bad read, but also not quite as good as I'd hoped. Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature! Westside is a multi-layered historical fiction/fantasy that arrives on the scene with strength and the sign of clear talent as a debut from W.M. Akers. It's not a book without its own problems, but it's a so *3.75 This had a lot of really neat aspects and I love the concept of the Westside/Eastside situation, but there was also almost too much crammed into a three-hundred page book. Definitely not a bad read, but also not quite as good as I'd hoped. Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature! Westside is a multi-layered historical fiction/fantasy that arrives on the scene with strength and the sign of clear talent as a debut from W.M. Akers. It's not a book without its own problems, but it's a solid example of inventiveness that left me constantly turning the pages. Westside is a book with quiet ambition that succeeds at creating a unique and innovative setting, but that blunders ever so slightly in finding a steady plot and pacing. Westside is unpredictable and full of wit, grit, and everything you might imagine would be present in a wild and uncontrollable New York setting. The best parts of this book are the world-building and the protagonist, Gilda Carr, though both of these are not without their own problems. To start, the world-building is truly fascinating and a great example of an author taking a familiar setting and turning it entirely upside down into something almost entirely unrecognizable. I loved the Eastside/Westside situation and the background for how the Westside became what it is. I was entranced by the mystery of the people who disappear in the shadows and how buildings and streets can simply disappear and be suddenly replaced with random wild growths of forests or plants. The contrast between the Eastside and the Westside is stark, but I also enjoyed the slight similarities that could be discerned at times and spoke to some stronger themes. There is an additional rather large third setting that appears within the story that I can't specifically mention here because it's a fairly important plot point, but I can say that it's an intriguing addition that added necessary depth to the story. Gilda Carr is a street-wizened, rather hardened woman who has become a seasoned resident of the Westside and is afraid of very little, save, perhaps, the dark night of the Westside. Westside is told from the first person perspective of Gilda, and I'm not sure I'd have it any other way. Her dry wit, general disinterest, and apathetic commentary on what was happening around her was one of the most compelling components of the entire book. Her commitment to only solving tiny mysteries was one of the more interesting parts of this plot, and I enjoyed seeing how that slowly unraveled and also remained true at the same time. She certainly has some development in this book, but there were also plenty of times when I never felt fully connected to her and couldn't quite decipher all of her decisions. I liked the Akers wanted to keep some things about her and the world mysterious, but I felt disconnected from things just a bit too much at times. Despite the positive components, there were some places where I struggled with this book. The biggest problem I had was that there just seemed to be too much going on. Too many character threads, too many random diversions and leads, and a general sense of feeling as if I've missed something. There were many times in the last two-thirds of the book where I realized that I was trying to read quickly so as to simply finish the book, and that's never really a good sign to be rushing through a book. There were also a few issues with inconsistent pacing throughout, with things happening to quickly or too suddenly and then other things that felt oddly drawn out. In general, though, things tended to be too fast rather than too slow. Overall, I've had pretty mixed feelings about Westside. On the one hand, it's a seriously inventive and interesting novel with a lot of great things to explore, but on the other hand it felt a bit overdone and had too much going on overall. Because of this, I've given Westside 3.75 stars. I've gone back and forth a lot on what to rate this book, but for right now this feels like a good place to put it. If you read the synopsis for this book and find yourself interested, then I certainly recommend you still check it out!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Marlene

    Originally published at Reading Reality Westside is a fantasy that is so dark that it sidles up to the line between fantasy and horror, then powers straight across it just like the ships of the gunrunners and rumrunners navigating the murky straits between Westside and our historical New York City. Gilda Carr investigates what she calls “tiny mysteries” as the big mysteries in her life are too huge to even contemplate. Because wrapped inside the big mystery of exactly what happened to her father, t Originally published at Reading Reality Westside is a fantasy that is so dark that it sidles up to the line between fantasy and horror, then powers straight across it just like the ships of the gunrunners and rumrunners navigating the murky straits between Westside and our historical New York City. Gilda Carr investigates what she calls “tiny mysteries” as the big mysteries in her life are too huge to even contemplate. Because wrapped inside the big mystery of exactly what happened to her father, the finest investigator ever to walk the Westside, there’s the mystery of the Westside itself. People disappear on the Westside. I don’t mean that in the usual sense, where some people walk away from their lives and are never found, and others are kidnapped or murdered and their bodies are never found. I mean disappeared in the sense that the Westside just swallows them up. Or rather, something in the shadowed dark on the Westside swallows them up. The numbers of the disappeared were so obviously concentrated in the Westside and so scandalously high that the “city fathers” decided to wall off the Westside for the good of the rest of the city, leaving thousands of remaining inhabitants to rot, or die, or disappear, or kill each other off in the lawless ghetto that the Westside is sure to become. And does. Attempting to solve the mystery of the Westside cost Gilda’s father his career and probably his life – one way or another. Gilda isn’t willing to put herself in that kind of danger, nor is she willing to open the Pandora’s Box of memories of her father and who he used to be. But when Gilda receives a tiny case from a woman on the Eastside who needs Gilda to find her lost glove, the glove leads her circuitously around the Westside and back through the past that she’s tried so desperately to bury. Along the way, she discovers that her parents were not quite the people her childhood memories made them out to be. And that the truth about the Westside is darker, stranger and more dangerous than she could have possibly imagined. And that it’s up to her to save what she must and fix what she can – before it’s too late. Escape Rating A: I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed this. Because it’s very dark. But Gilda is an extremely compelling character, the setup is amazing, and the quasi-history worldbuilding is just fantastic. Then it falls off the edge of its world and gets even deeper. The story seems to sit on a very weird corner between urban fantasy, steampunk, horror and historical fiction, with elements of all but not completely in any. At first it doesn’t seem as if it fits into historical fiction, although it eventually does, and with one hell of a twist. What it reminds me of most is the darker side of steampunk, particularly the Seattle of Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker, because that’s another alternate history where the supposed “outside” forces of cleanliness and order and good government have locked away a terrible secret along with all of the mostly innocent people who are affected by it. The scarred and damaged heroine Gilda Carr calls to mind the equally, if not more so, scarred and damaged protagonist Cherry St. Croix of the St. Croix Chronicles by Karina Cooper. And even though Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere is set in London (as are the St. Croix Chronicles) the way that his dark, dangerous and magical world exists alongside and underneath the city we know also feels much like Westside. As much as the horror sends shivers down the spine, it’s the human aspects of this story that stick in the mind. Part of Gilda’s investigation forces her to learn something that is one of the sadder hallmarks of adulthood. She learns that her parents were not perfect, that they were human and flawed and fallible just as she is. And that neither they nor their marriage was anything like her idealized childhood memories of them. She is also forced by her circumstances to discover exactly what lies at the dark heart of the Westside, and just how much her idolized and idealized father was responsible for. And that she is the person that the Westside has made her, with all its dark faults and all its dubious virtues. And that she truly can’t go home again. All she can do is go forwards – in whatever she can manage to save of the Westside.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Katie/Doing Dewey

    Summary: The setting for this story was fun, but the plot was lacking and the main character felt cliched. Let's start with the best part of this book - the setting! Detective Gilda Carr lives in New York City. It's 1921 and to the West of Broadway, the city has been slowly succumbing to the shadows for years. A guarded border protects the Eastside from the mysterious rash of disappearances and supernatural happenings of the Westside. The Westside itself is divided into two parts. Half is run by Summary: The setting for this story was fun, but the plot was lacking and the main character felt cliched. Let's start with the best part of this book - the setting! Detective Gilda Carr lives in New York City. It's 1921 and to the West of Broadway, the city has been slowly succumbing to the shadows for years. A guarded border protects the Eastside from the mysterious rash of disappearances and supernatural happenings of the Westside. The Westside itself is divided into two parts. Half is run by a woman who motivates her followers with bootleg booze. The other half is run by a man who provides at least the illusion of safety. The author would have us believe that Gilda survives by solving only small mysteries, staying off the radar of the powerful and avoiding tough questions. However, the first and only case we follow is the opposite of small. It rapidly reveals into a conspiracy possibly involving the leaders of Westside, the wealthiest Eastsiders, and/or a bunch of corrupt cops. She's pulled into the two main mysteries she's been avoiding - the mystery of her father's disappearance and the reason for the darkness of Westside. With her near death wish and willingness to run towards a fight, I found it hard to believe Glinda had ever truly focused on the small mysteries that sounded so interesting in the book blurb. In general, I found Gilda a difficult character to be excited about. She's was a bit of a cliche - the hard-boiled detective with a tragic past. Her choice to stay involved in a more difficult case seemed to require the constant, coincidental appearance of hooks to keep her going. Her "investigation" largely involved bouncing from person to person, believing each of them when they blamed someone else and running off to interrogate her new suspect. There was little detective work and few clues. The parts of the mystery I was able to figure out relied on metadata, knowledge of how particular plot points often play out. Gilda took a long time to figure out what were, to me, obvious answers. Most of the time when she did figure things out, it seemed like she was just making a guess, picking one of many solutions that might explain the events she'd observed. Perhaps because this method of presenting a mystery left me reliant on exposition for answers, I was only mildly interested in what would happen next, not gripped by the mystery.This review was originally posted on Doing Dewey

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mallory

    I loved the concept of Westside: Gilda Carr is a young woman living in an alternative universe of New York City. In her New York, a mysterious phenomenon has split the city in two halves: the Eastside and the Westside. The Eastside is more "normal" whereas in the Westside people and entire buildings vanish suddenly and there is unexplained decay everywhere. Yet Gilda calls it home and builds a business of solving small mysteries. The story begins with Gilda taking on a small mystery from a wealt I loved the concept of Westside: Gilda Carr is a young woman living in an alternative universe of New York City. In her New York, a mysterious phenomenon has split the city in two halves: the Eastside and the Westside. The Eastside is more "normal" whereas in the Westside people and entire buildings vanish suddenly and there is unexplained decay everywhere. Yet Gilda calls it home and builds a business of solving small mysteries. The story begins with Gilda taking on a small mystery from a wealthy Eastside client: the loss of a single glove. The story rolls on, sometimes slightly bumpy, from there. There were elements of Neverwhere and The City & the City all through this book. I think it suffered slightly from incomplete world building. There were some interesting quirks of this universe that were mentioned and then quickly forgotten (or passed over because they caused some plot holes). For example, Gilda is able to cross over between the two sides with a pass but others can't? And there seems to be very little interest in the weird things happening in New York by the entire rest of the world. The relationships between the characters also seemed to change scene to scene. It was difficult for me to get a handle on who Gilda liked or didn't like and why. The connections between them all seemed pretty tenuous. However, the story was really interesting and I think that this is a great debut for W. M. Akers

  26. 5 out of 5

    Anne - Books of My Heart

    This review was originally posted on Books of My Heart   Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.   The premise of Westside sounded fascinating and I was very excited to read it.   I like historical fantasy with a mystery.  Actually I like mystery, period.  Somehow, even though this had all the parts I should like, it wasn't for me.  The beginning had the detailed world-building which gave me a bit of first book syndrome when This review was originally posted on Books of My Heart   Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.   The premise of Westside sounded fascinating and I was very excited to read it.   I like historical fantasy with a mystery.  Actually I like mystery, period.  Somehow, even though this had all the parts I should like, it wasn't for me.  The beginning had the detailed world-building which gave me a bit of first book syndrome when I feel like I don't know or understand enough.  It's set in 1921 but this is an alternate sort of universe. It does feel like the time around Prohibition. The main character Gilda is smart and brave. She has a wide knowledge about the people and happenings, partly because her father was a detective. But even so, she wasn't clued into everything. The real issue is I didn't feel I knew her or the other characters enough to care what happened to them. The mystery was well plotted with enough twists and turns it wasn't obvious to solve. Plus the paranormal factors added to the inability to predict what would happen.  It felt slow for me, but really, others may enjoy it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alix

    Fantasy books aren’t really my cup of tea, but this historical fantasy novel caught my eye! Westside is totally quirky, full of imagination and is mysterious. Think Star Wars meets The Great Gatsby for the settings and characters. It was, for lack of a better word, weird. I have read multiple reviews where people said that the story was too ‘out there’ for them and they couldn’t relate. Well I’m weird so I could relate! Well-not relate, but I found it entertaining. Specifically, I envisioned Jakk Fantasy books aren’t really my cup of tea, but this historical fantasy novel caught my eye! Westside is totally quirky, full of imagination and is mysterious. Think Star Wars meets The Great Gatsby for the settings and characters. It was, for lack of a better word, weird. I have read multiple reviews where people said that the story was too ‘out there’ for them and they couldn’t relate. Well I’m weird so I could relate! Well-not relate, but I found it entertaining.​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​​ Specifically, I envisioned Jakku with touches of vintage NYC as the setting and of course Daisy Ridley as Gilda Carr. It wasn’t the best book of 2019, but I found it to be fun!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    Gilda Carr is a fantastic detective protagonist and the strange and terrifying world Akers builds is endlessly fascinating. His twisted version of 1921 New York feels natural and organic while simultaneously being precisely *correct*: nothing ever feels out of place, or makes you stop to question the internal logic. I might have done with approximately 1.75 fewer characters to keep track of, considering that "Westside" isn't a tome by any stretch, but that's a quibble.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jypsy

    As a fan of historical fiction, I thought I would enjoy Westside, but that was not the case. The story world setting is just not plausible in my mind. It's just a bit too far out to really connect with reality of the time and place. I skimmed through parts of it because I didn't care enough about the outcome to commit my time to this story. Overall it's an average read that I know many readers will enjoy. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I'm well obsessed with this premise, which is utterly delicious, and I find Gilda Carr scrappily vicious and determined -- the perfect detective. Some of the worldbuilding didn't QUITE hang together for me (there are still some things I'm puzzled about), but Akers is a clever writer and I am sincerely looking forward to Book 2!

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