The Shambling Guide to New York City is an urban fantasy that starts out with an intriguing exploration into how the human world might interact with a Buffy-esque any-myth-system-is-fair-game secret supernatural world. I was aware that the major plot arc doesn’t really get cranking for quite a few chapters, but I didn’t mind, because Lafferty’s world-building had me completely entranced. Once it gets cranking, though, it goes everywhere at breakneck pace. Perhaps the thing that impresses me most is how many tonal shifts the book incorporates while still managing to feel cohesive: it starts out in a light/comic vein, gets substantially darker and more intense, makes an unexpected detour into rather adult territory and culminates with a protracted gonzo, over-the-top magical battle. All this and likable and/or interesting characters, most of whom deviate at least a bit from the standard protag/sidekick/villain molds. I thought it was hoot and a half, and I’m impatient for more.