A romp through place and dimension, Tim Richards strikes a crazy chord in Mind the Gap. With a not-so-ordinary cast of characters, we are brought to a fast paced world and Richards gives us the quest of a lifetime.
Darius Ibrahim is not having a good week.
He’s been threatened by a knife-wielding maniac on a London train, interrogated by a mysterious warrior woman beneath the city’s streets, pursued by a military death squad in Melbourne, had his new girlfriend kidnapped and held hostage in Prague, and been captured and taken to another world.
And it’s barely been three days since his life started to fall to pieces.
On top of all this, he’s developed a bizarre ability that allows him to teleport in quite unusual circumstances – an ability that several deadly enemies will do anything to gain control of.
In a desperate struggle involving alternate worlds, Egyptian mythology, ancient prophecy, malevolent felines, underground railway stations and the power of dreams, can Darius long survive the arrival of his newfound power?
Urban Fantasy has many subgenres and I found Mind the Gap to be firmly in the surreal category. Richards balances the real and the realistic beautifully in the second dream Earth that he created. This setting is fascinating and ripe for possibility. I love how Richards twisted his fantasy so that convictions of people on our world become the reality of the next. Every religion turns into magical reality and even the mind’s other reactions, such as to major catastrophes, has an impact on this new Terra.
I thought it was wise of Richards to stay away from the more modern religions and I quite liked his choice of Ancient Egypt as a pinnacle of magic. This only added to the mystery of real vs surreal. The factions vying for power are tied directly to the familiar Egyptian icons of Anubis, Horus, and Bast. The only downside to these neat factions is that they muddle the otherwise clear objective of the protagonist. It wasn’t a matter of wondering which character was part of organization; that is something I think evolves in any sort of thriller or espionage novel. What bothered me about the different factions was that their goals and motives were never clear. I consistently asked myself what the purpose of each faction was. While this was somewhat answered in passing towards the end, it still didn’t give each house their own distinct identity and left me feeling dissatisfied.
The characters aren’t anything to write home about but do well enough. The main protagonist is pretty generic for an urban fantasy apart from his race. I was glad that his Egyptian heritage was tied into the storyline but didn’t really play a factor in his interactions with others. My favorite character was an Aussie by the name of Viv. She was a likeably frank chick who was every good stereotype of Australians balled into one. Not to share too much of a spoiler, but I think it was neat how her likeness was also somewhat twisted in Terra.
This fast paced story is entertaining even if Mind the Gap may be an example of why most writers only use two factions. The lack of direction in the middle of the plot works itself out in the end and the reader gets most of their questions answered. In the end, the most important thing is that Mind the Gap was a fun read.