Hmmm…Hot Stew is the perfect title for this book. It has two completely different plots that are rubbing uncomfortably together like too tight shoes on bare feet.
The first story is a brothel that is fighting gentrification in Soho, London. I liked the strong female prostitutes. There were no victims here. However, Agatha, the landlord trying to kick them out seems almost like a comic book villain. Though if you are old enough, she will remind you of real-life personality, Leona Hemsley, aka The Queen of Mean.
The second plot is almost bizarro science fiction, which generally I enjoy. It just seemed weird shoved into this book. A hidden underground world? In a story about the evils of gentrification? I just didn’t get it.
However, the prose goes a long way to make up for the plotting issues. It is luxurious—like sinking into a warm bubble bath. I could clearly see all the settings in my mind’s eye as if I were a fly on the wall.
Overall, Hot Stew is a stew—not a melting pot. But the prose raises my rating to 4 stars!
Thanks to Algonquin Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.