Battle Hill Bolero (Bone Street Rumba #3) by Daniel José Older

Battle Hill Bolero - Daniel José Older

The dead now rise… up.


The Council has had its own way for too long. Too many souls have been lost. Too much injustice has been swallowed. The Remote districts, the rebels, the dispossessed are rising up – war is coming.


Of course Carlos, half dead, memoryless and very much adrift – is in the middle of this; even as his own history and murky past come crashing around him.




There’s a lot about this book series I love – which are continued excellently in this book. I love many of the characters and the conflicts they face and the lives they’ve lead. I love their voices and the excellent solid realness behind so many of them. Most of the main cast feel like people, complete people, not extras to advance someone else.


Most of the cast are also POC with their cultures, races and origins clearly labelled. As I’ve said before, this book series does so well with racial diversity because it doesn’t just use racial labels as brief descriptors but not involving them in their actual depiction. We have several latino characters (and “latino” is not just a wide vague descriptor but we have notes on the different South American and Carribean nations and cultures that are covered by that label), Black characters, Native Americans, Asians – there is a huge racial diversity in New York City and this is reflected in this series


The ghosts themselves have so many different and excellent little factions – from the poignant spirits of the Black Hoodies – ghosts killed by police, to the ancient, slow incomprehensible and enigmatic ancient ghosts, to the calm and powerful ex-slaves to the fluffy and slightly silly cyclists who died in traffic accidents. All little societies coming together for reasons both meaningful and silly and all very human.


It’s these characters continuing their story from the previous books which truly make this series – not just Carlos and Sasha but the many powerful characters around them as well. But still, Sasha and Carlos’s examination of their past, both the revelations and how they dealt with it – and how they then relate to each other given their very very very very oh-so-very complicated history – are an excellent part of the book (if almost tangential to the main story). Especially with Juan Flores mixing it up even further.


The plot itself had large amounts of epic elements as well. We have a grand conflict, with sacrifice and loss and desperation and power and passion. It was at times very emotional, often very moving and often blood-fizzling exciting


What did make it harder for me to follow this book is that there’s such a huge number of characters in this book. This is the book where everything comes to a head and we have the full blown conflict with all kinds of factions and forces coming together



But I think that this would work better if we moved it to maybe 3 books in the future it would be better. We have all these many factions, all of these different groups and districts and people all with their own grievances against the council along with other supernatural beings like the River Giants –but all of them feel a bit out of the blue. They’ve all just appeared: the relatively narrow story we had about Carlos and his close associates has now exploded to include all these vast new cast members who are either completely new or had relatively minor roles before. But the way they’re written almost implies we should know them or be invested in them or even get the conflict each personally faces. It feels almost like book three there was a sudden decision to tell a whole different story but there were these two other inconvenient prequels to fit in somehow.




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