Catch Lili Too by Sophie Whittemore

catch lili tooCatch Lili Too was an unusual reading choice for me, but when the author approached me about their “queer punk fantasy” book, something about this description was irresistible:

Lili is a Mesopotamian siren, and life as an immortal being is hard enough as it is. She’s asexual (which is incredibly difficult to reconcile if your entire point as a mythical being is to seduce people to death). She’s also struggling with depression from being alive for so long.

She moonlights as an immortal detective trying to track down a serial killer so ruthless that it makes even her murderous soul uneasy. However, there’s something larger at work than just one serial killer. A small town is hiding an even deadlier, global-scale secret. Forget Area 51 conspiracies. This one beats them all. With magic.

So, what better way to spice up her eternal life than being hired as a vigilante detective to stop a serial killer? Anything, literally anything. She’d trade her left lung to get out of this. Or, perhaps, somebody else’s.

I just got this feeling that I’d enjoy Whittemore’s writing style, and I was right. I’m thankful I took a chance on this, because it was fun, entertaining, thoughtful, and with its theme of found family, exactly the kind of book I needed.

The main character is demisexual, panromantic, and has depression (all #ownvoices rep), and there’s a secondary character who’s a trans guy—but these identities aren’t plot devices. They’re not weaknesses, they’re not “issues” to be solved. All of the characters in this book are just being themselves, as they are, and I can’t express how refreshing that was.

There’s a lot of quirky, humorous banter between the characters, and wow, is this story action-packed. Things happen fast—relationship changes especially. But because things happen so quickly, I felt like some of the fun in getting to know characters, and seeing how they develop, was accomplished more through telling than showing. It didn’t detract from the reading experience too much, but I would have been plenty happy to read a longer book that allowed the characters and their relationships to unfold more organically.

I appreciated that I didn’t have to work hard to learn some massive fantasy world, something that makes me feel iffy about picking up this genre. A lot of times fantasy equals time periods, settings, and creatures I find boring, but Catch Lili Too is set in modern day (there’s mention of cell phones, digital ride shares, and even BTS and K-pop, lol). Not just modern day, but Minnesota, even!

If you’re looking for a fast-paced, action-packed paranormal fantasy with diverse rep and a lot of heart, consider Sophie Whittemore’s Catch Lili Too a must-read.

YA/NA. Genre overlaps include: fantasy, thriller, mystery, punk, noir, LGBT+, found family.
TW for graphic violence, the death of a secondary character, suicide, murder, cancer, references to mental illness. If you’re trying to avoid HP references, CW for a few mentions of that as well.