Even Though I Knew the End
by C. L. Polk
Released on November 8th, 2022
Published by Tordotcom
Adult Fiction—Historical, Fantasy
A magical detective dives into the affairs of Chicago’s divine monsters to secure a future with the love of her life. This sapphic period piece will dazzle anyone looking for mystery, intrigue, romance, magic, or all of the above.
An exiled augur who sold her soul to save her brother’s life is offered one last job before serving an eternity in hell. When she turns it down, her client sweetens the pot by offering up the one payment she can’t resist―the chance to have a future where she grows old with the woman she loves.
To succeed, she is given three days to track down the White City Vampire, Chicago’s most notorious serial killer. If she fails, only hell and heartbreak await.
Trigger/Content Warning(s): Blood, Violence, Death, Homophobia, Gun violence, Forced institutionalization, Car accident, Mental illness, Alcohol
Disclaimer: I was provided a physical galley and finished copy of this title for review and publicity purposes. This does not affect my opinion.
Even Though I Knew the End was an unexpected read. Despite being a novella, there was a full story within C. L. Polk’s written pages.
I had a tough time getting into this story. Act One had terrible structure, to put it simply. There was no hook, and the intrigue was little to none. The pacing was undefined and ranged from quick to slow to decent over a span of multiple chapters. However, once past this first part, I found it much easier to get into reading and much more entertaining.
Polk went about character development in an interesting way. Being that this is a novella, there is little time for long-span character development. However, she did not let that deter them and took the length of the story to build upon each individual character that readers came across. Elena was an intriguing protagonist. Having lost something every human being should have, she is running on a ticking timer that is close to ringing. But due to the events in this story, she is given a second chance—shaping the decisions and choices she makes.
I found that I thoroughly enjoyed Elena and Edith’s relationship. Two women living in a society that is yet unwilling for change and acceptance, but they made it work and heard out each other’s thoughts and fears and desires. This story begins and continues after they were already a couple, but towards the end of the book, we do get a hint into their first meeting and beginning of their relationship.
The plot of this story was not my favorite. I feel like, even with it being a novella, readers could have been given a bit more development. This story tells more than it shows, and it became a lacking feature while reading. Despite this, I still enjoyed the last half of the novella. I thought the twist was well-done and well hidden, and I enjoyed the ending decisions and falling actions.
Overall, this was a fairly decent first read from C. L. Polk. I do not think I am quite the fit reader for their stories, but nonetheless, I did still like this novella. For that, I give Even Though I Knew the End a starred rating. There is opportunity for me to venture into Polk’s other works in the future, though I am still undecided if I will or not just yet.
C. L. Polk (they/them/she/her) wrote the Hugo nominated Kingston Cycle, beginning with the WFA winning novel Witchmark. Their Subjective Chaos Kind of Award winning novel The Midnight Bargain was a Canada Reads, Nebula, Locus, Ignyte, and World Fantasy Award finalist.
After leaving high school early, they have worked as a film extra, sold vegetables on the street, and identified exotic insect species for a vast collection of lepidoptera before settling down to write fantasy novels.
Mx. Polk lives In Calgary on Treaty 7 land, among the traditional territories of the Blackfoot Confederacy, the Tsuut’ina, the Îyâxe Nakoda Nations, and the Métis Nation (Region 3). They dwell in an apartment the same age as they are with too many books, not enough cats, and a yarn stash that could last a decade. A city person at heart, They menace the streets on rideshare scooters and ride a green bicycle with a basket on the front.
They drink good coffee because life is too short. They spend too much time on twitter. You can subscribe to their free newsletter on TinyLetter, or subscribe to their Patreon for content writing nerds like.
Mx. Polk is represented by Caitlin McDonald of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.