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Review: Even Though I Knew the End

Updated: Jul 10

4/5 stars

At barely over 100 pages, this was a quick read, but Polk manages to create an incredibly full, vivid world. It's set in 1930's Chicago, and has the feel of an old-timey, noir, detective story, complete with a monochrome-feeling city, cigarette smoke, dark alleys, and clubs hidden behind secret doors. But, of course, there's also magic.

Helen is a warlock doing magic on the down-low. She does jobs for a woman named Marlowe, who has just requested that Helen seek out a notorious serial killer who is ritualistically murdering at random, leaving behind symbols and sigils written in the victims' blood. She's tempted to say no but Marlowe possesses something she very much wants back, and is forced to accept the job. In the meantime, we also meet Edith, Helen's girlfriend, who's a little too-good-to-be-true sweet and kind and pure, as well as Helen's brother Ted, which whom she has a fraught relationship. He works for a shadowy, magical organization that has also taken a keen interest in "the White City Killer," and sees Helen as in the way. I wasn't expecting to also see the appearance of literal angels and demons, but it all makes sense in context.

The character of Helen is great. So many warring thoughts and things pulling her in different directions, and you could absolutely feel her adoration of Edith, and her fascination with the mystery at hand. Edith, as I said, was a bit too goody-two-shoes for me, but we find out a bit more about her that makes that make sense, and I did love the unwavering dedication the two had for each other (and by the way, despite having read novels that would probably qualify, I've never actually seen/heard the term "sapphic romance" until now!). Ted is not very well developed, but I think his purpose in the novella was more to play off of Helen's emotions than it was to have too many of his own.

Overall I thought this was a lot of fun, with a pretty gripping and immersive atmosphere for such a small book. I also like a bittersweet ending, which this had. Not everything comes up roses.


UP NEXT: None of This Is True, by Lisa Jewell

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