Even Though I Knew The End

Hardcover, 136 pages

English language

Published Nov. 18, 2022 by Doherty Associates, Tor.

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4 stars (11 reviews)

A magical detective dives into the affairs of Chicago's divine monsters to secure a future with the love of her life. This sapphic period piece will dazzle anyone looking for mystery, intrigue, romance, magic, or all of the above.

An exiled augur who sold her soul to save her brother's life is offered one last job before serving an eternity in hell. When she turns it down, her client sweetens the pot by offering up the one payment she can't resist—the chance to have a future where she grows old with the woman she loves.

To succeed, she is given three days to track down the White City Vampire, Chicago's most notorious serial killer. If she fails, only hell and heartbreak await.

2 editions

Short and Sweet Hard Boiled Magic

5 stars

This picked up on a couple of genres that have been fairly well-trod, but was so well written they seemed fresh and propulsive. Helen and Edith were likeable and relatable, and the prose was direct but enjoyable and descriptive. The use of magic was well thought out. I thought the short length benefited the book, it made its points and got in and out.

One nitpick is that a lot of the characters' ages seemed off. Chronologically they were mid-20s, but it feels like Helen was written as older.

The thing that stands out most to be is that it's written so well it leaves you wanting more, but also explains to you why the story's a closed loop, and shouldn't continue beyond what was written.

Even though Helen knew the end, it's not going to stop me from speculating that their story after the book plays out differently. Hey, …

Even Though I Knew the End, by C.L. Polk

5 stars

Every book I’ve read by C.L. Polk is better than the last. I liked Witchmark. I enjoyed The Midnight Bargain. But Even Though I Knew the End entertained me and got me right in the feels; I loved this book. Even Though I Knew the End opens in a wintery, magical Chicago in 1940. Irregular investigator and thwarted magician Helen Brandt is quietly tying up the loose ends of her life when her best client sends her to a crime scene that Helen instantly wants to run from. The only thing that keeps Helen on the job is the promise from this client that she might be rewarded with the impossible: her soul and the chance to live a full life with her lover, Edith...

Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type.

Even Though I Knew the End

4 stars

This is a very sapphic queer 1940's noir detective novella set in Chicago; it follows Helen Brandt who is sucked into one last case with a payment she can't resist. I love all of the era-appropriate diction and dialogue; the whole story felt like the gritty internal monologue of a detective radio play. I just enjoyed this all quite a bit: the characters, the writing, the tone, the backstory and worldbuilding reveals, and the final action (even though I knew the end).

This story also gave me a lot of similar vibes to The Chosen and the Beautiful. Even though they're both from different eras, they're both stories in specific American time periods with magic and soul selling.

Review of 'Even Though I Knew the End' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

As far as books that I bought simply because I liked the cover/title/quick blurb when I saw it in the store, I've certainly done worse before. Maybe I should've spent a little longer researching it though because this book wasn't at all what I was expecting to be, and that's entirely on me.

I was very into the first third or so of the book: a woman detective in noir Chicago scopes out crime scenes and dips into secret lesbian speakeasies with some loose magical elements floating around the fringes. But then the magic started getting impossible to ignore and went full-blown Constantine with angels vs. demons and Deus ex Machina scenes. Kinda wished the supernatural elements stayed subtle, but that's a personal preference. I also got the sense that the protagonist was just kind of swept along by events happening around her and only made a significant decision at …

Review of 'Even Though I Knew the End' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

A delightful and romantic sapphic noir

A supernatural noir whodunit, with a queer female protagonist — a magical detective — working for “Marlowe”, a rich, queer female client, in 1940s Chicago. We see a glimpse of the underground queer club scene and of involuntary confinement in an asylum of another queer woman (CN), as well as of a loving fulfilled relationship between the protagonist and her religiously-devoted girlfriend that is key to the protagonist and her motivations, while the characters navigate both the societal expectations of women in the real-world as well as those of the magical society of Polk’s worldbuilding.

Despite its short length, this novella took me by surprise so many times. The noir plot and theme blended with the Supernatural urban fantasy seamlessly and the pre-Stonewall queerness reminded me pleasingly of both [b:Last Night at the Telegraph Club|35224992|Last Night at the Telegraph Club|Malinda Lo|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1593457992l/35224992.SY75.jpg|56568979] and …

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