I feel like I came to Even Though I Knew the End by CL Polk late even though it’s still a relatively new release. I also started it, had to pause because I had to read for work on deadline, and then picked up where I left off… but only after my required reading made it abundantly clear that, by comparison, this book is amazing. That said, it moved slower for me than others and perhaps that affected my overall rating for it. This is a novella that could easily become a series of novellas. I’m thinking much like P. Djeli Clark’s Djinn series that ultimately produced a full length novel, Master of Djinn (which I read immediately after Even Though I Knew the End).
The story recalls – and is a massive improvement upon, by the way – Supernatural (the TV show). It’s dark. It’s noir with some similar trappings – to its credit – and some deviations from the tropes – also to its credit. The White City Vampire is on the loose, responsible for gruesome serial murders in back-in-the-day Chicago where our intrepid MC, a young woman with a clock on her life since she sold her soul to the Devil to save her brother’s life, identifies curious glyphs and sacrificial elements at the crime scenes. She’s about to die – sure – but she’s also been made a proposition by a handsome devil in human woman’s sleek and wealthy skin: solve the crime and I’ll give you your life back.
I think there’s a lot to unpack – more like, a lot that can unfurl – from the novella that could have really worked in a bit of a longer form. Or, maybe, I just wanted it to? It definitely is a dark supernatural noir that recalls the Phillip Marlowes as much as it recalls the Constantines. It feels like a very on trend character and world. I namechecked Master of Djinn in my first paragraph and this is definitely a novel that rides that same wave. Where I thought Djinn was a bit overlong (CB post/ review to come), I feel like Even Though I Knew the End suffered the opposite problem. But I use “problem” loosely here. Polk’s created a character, a world, and a plot that I could dedicate months to reading through in different adventures, following different characters, etc. It’s just a lot packed into a single novella. A lot. The story is singular, however. Much to its credit it’s open and shut, which is its own reward and something I absolutely look forward to. If there were another installment, I’d pick it up without a second thought… probably even sooner than I picked up this one. I’d get the ARC if it showed up on the Tor catalog in a heartbeat.