The City's Son by Tom Pollock
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I liked this version of Another London more than I liked Mielville's Un Lun Dun but not as much as Gaiman's Neverwhere. Perhaps what was missing was Gaiman's humor, because the world was certainly built well (albeit a little confusingly).
Beth is a graffiti artist, not interested in tagging as much as actual drawings; she gets expelled from school because she's drawn a rather insulting portrait of a teacher she particularly hates - the portrait is on school property, so it's not just insulting, it's vandalism. Her BFF, Pen, has given her up (the reasons become clear later) and her father has essentially checked out of life following her mother's death. So she has nowhere to go, no one to turn to and runs away... only to be nearly killed by a Railwraith, and then rescued by Filias Vitae (whom she soon calls Fil or Phyllis).
The world that Fil inhabits is the alternate world, with sodium streetlights fighting with white lights, barbed wire monsters, chemical waste turned to magical powers, the Mirrorstocracy and other strange denizens. This world could have been slightly less crowded and better explained, but it's certainly interesting! Beth and Fil team up to battle Reach, who is destroying London's streets and life with all the building (think Canary Warf).
Because this is the start to a series, the ending isn't quite as satisfying. That's not to say all story lines needed to be tied up, but the vagueness here was a little off-putting: not quite a cliffhanger, not quite an ending. Obviously we'll see Fil, Beth and Pen later. As for Dad, who finally comes out of his shell and starts to actually act like a father? My guess is he'll play a larger role in coming books.