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Book Review: Even Though I Knew the End by C.L. Polk

Even Though I Knew the End
C.L. Polk
Hardcover / Ebook
ISBN: 9781250849458
Tordotcom, November 2022, 144 pgs

C.L. Polk’s fantasy Even Though I Knew the End is the queer supernatural detective noir everyone needs in their life. The novella follows Elena Brandt, who has sold her soul and is working as a detective for the very demon she sold it to. The demon, Marlowe, has put Elena on the case of the White City Vampire, pushing her into a dangerous mix of murder, magic, and demons.

Elena’s voice is catchy and funny in the way good urban fantasy protagonists are. There’s just enough dark humor and quips to keep the reader laughing through the darker moments of the story. While at times, Even Though I Knew the End read like urban fantasy, it felt more like a crime noir with fast pacing and a world filled with gay romance, angels, and demons. Another aspect of Elena’s character that made her a wonderful person to follow was her heart. She loves fiercely and it’s one of the first things we learn about her.

As a fan of supernatural detective stories, I loved the quick pacing and rush through the world to focus on Elena overcoming her deal with a demon—a deal she made for good reason, of course, because Elena doesn’t do anything without good reason. There were some moments I wish I had more information, but in Polk’s hands I knew the information would come when it was supposed to and not a moment sooner.

For people familiar with urban fantasy settings, there won’t be any surprise that angels, demons, vampires, magic, and secret orders all exist in the city of Chicago. Polk does a wonderful job introducing the magic system and the order of law that governs it without spending too much or really any time doing a bunch of complicated worldbuilding. Even Though I Knew the End is a ride of queer love, dark magic, and making peace with the past in an entertaining mystery.

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Aigner Loren Wilson

Aigner Loren Wilson - A side profile of a Black woman staring out at the sea with the ocean, cliffs, and trees in the background.

Aigner Loren Wilson is a queer Black writer of speculative fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and games. She serves as a senior fiction editor at Strange Horizons and has guest-edited issues of Fireside Fiction and Apparition Literary Magazine. Her work has appeared in FIYAH, Anathema, Arsenika, and other publications. When she’s not writing or editing for others, she’s learning, hiking, or loving on her fur babies—both human and animal. To check out her books, games, bread bakes, and other writings visit her website (aignerlwilson.com).