Disappearing nightly / Laura Resnick
(I am currently experiencing some hardware issues so a link will hopefully be forthcoming)
Disappearing nightly is the first book featuring Esther Diamond, aspiring actress struggling to make ends meet in New York City. It’s one of those series where it’s unclear which book is first and so I accidentally read the second one first not that I’m bitter about that or anything.
Brief plot summary
When the female lead of the off-Broadway show Sorcerer! disappears for real during the disappearing act, her understudy Esther Diamond is understandably nervous about stepping into the role. When a mysterious stranger appears with dire warnings, it’s up to Esther and an eccentric group of allies including a rhinestone cowboy and a team of enthusiastic drag queens to figure out who is really behind these disappearances.
So how is it?
It’s not that great, but don’t let that scare you off. It’s goofy and fun in a cheap romantic comedy kind of way. Esther is essentially a stock character: Jewish girl comes to New York City to make her dreams of stardom come true. She’s love able and klutzy but finds it easy to make friends with a wide variety of people.
There are a couple of things that distinguish this series from other urban fantasy … series.
First, the basic trope common to most urban fantasy is that the protagonist has some special power. Tobey is a changeling, Harry Dresden is a wizard, etc. Esther Diamond is just a normal aspiring actor. While the people she interacts with have all sorts of mystical powers, she remains (at least as far as I have read) a regular person who succeeds with pluck and determination.
The second distinguishing trait is the generally irreverent tone. While it’s not totally unheard of in the genre, Resnick’s work is notably sillier than other “light” urban fantasy. Slapstick humor is pretty commonplace, and the plots themselves are pretty goofy.
One of the things I like about these books is that the jokes are more than just simple wink-wink nudg-nudge references to other media and/or “look at how self aware I am!”
Not that I don’t enjoy that kind of humor, it’s just nice to see something more upfront.
One possible stumbling block for readers is that sometimes Esther falls a little bit too much into the stereotypical romantic comedy leading lady role. Think ice cream and weight complaints territory. She never goes full on Cathy but it’s still worthy of more than a few eye rolls.
I’ve read the first three books in the series so far and I’ll probably continue to pick it up. I tend to use it as a palate cleanser in between books from more serious series.
As to recommendations, this is one that doesn’t really require any previous investment in the genre and could definitely appeal to readers who don’t normally “do” fantasy. It’s light and silly and there’s a definite lack of convoluted mythology that can be a barrier to entry in the genre.