Going Under

Justina Robson, Author . Pyr $15 (341p) ISBN 978-1-59102-650-1

Uneven pacing and an overcrowded cast try the reader’s patience in Robson’s third Quantum Gravity novel (after 2007’s Selling Out ). Though the part Goth, part rock-and-roll tone is consistent throughout, the template shifts halfway through. Series protagonist Lila Black mopes through the book’s first half with occasional interruptions from would-be assassins, pausing at intervals to puzzle over her built-in robotic weaponry’s new self-upgrading abilities or to bicker with her two husbands—elf-lord Zal and demon Teazle—and with Tath, the dead necromancer whose consciousness she’s hosting. Little of note happens until Lila and her entourage journey deep into faery realms, where a seemingly simple mission quickly turns into a surprisingly traditional fairy-tale quest with potentially world-altering consequences. The novel belatedly sparkles in this final section, suddenly sprouting a cleverly nuanced plot. Newcomers should look up prior volumes first, but series fans will be reasonably satisfied. (Sept.)