Stars: 5 out of 5.
I think I found a new urban fantasy series to fangirl about! I picked it up on a whim because I liked to cover. Oh, and I had no clue that the author was Jim Butcher’s son. Though I must admit that I was never a huge fan of Harry Dresden, though I read maybe 4 or 5 books in the series. I might even revisit that particular series someday…
Anyway, I came to this book unbiased and without trying to compare the creation of the son to the works of the father. And I must admit that I really loved it!
The world is very interesting. We have the Usuals, or people like you and me, plain Jane humans, and we have the Unorthodox. Who can be magic users (or witches), as well as other magical creatures that we heard of in legends and fairy tales (and some we’ve never heard of). Some can pass for human with relative ease and managed to build almost normal lives in our world. Some… not so much. All of them are controlled and regulated by the Bureau of Unorthodox Affairs, who acts like law enforcement, but also a social services organization.
Now let’s talk about Grimsby, our protagonist. He is a bumbling, stumbling bundle of insecurities and misery, but I must admit that I really liked him. Because he has good reasons to be miserable and resentful, and to wallow in that misery from time to time. Life really did a number on him. He is not a hero. He is, most of the time, a coward that hates conflict and tries to avoid it at any cost.
But despite all that, he has a strong backbone and a moral compass. He is willing to bend and let a lot of things slide, but when it comes to something that he holds dear, or that he thinks is plain wrong, he will stand his ground, even despite the danger to himself. He is also very loyal to his friends, probably because he doesn’t have that many. In fact, by the end of this book, he really only has one.
I also liked that despite his limitations, he finds new and ingenious ways to combine the three spells he knows. And even though those are only 3 spells, he mastered them to perfection. Grimsby might not be particularly powerful, but he is very tenacious and capable of innovative thinking, because he doesn’t have pure magical strength to rely on.
I also like his grudging partnership with the Huntsman, because despite the odds, they make a really good team. The Huntsman constantly pushes Grimsby to get out of his comfort zone, especially if that zone is made of self-pity and woe against the unfairness of the universe. And Grimsby acts as a tempering influence and a moral compass for a man who has done some terrible things in the line of duty and often won’t hesitate to do even more horrible things if needed. Even if he would probably regret it afterwards.
It was interesting to see the Huntsman go from looking at Grimsby first with suspicion, then with derision, then with grudging respect. And they did get to the bottom of things in the end and got the bad guy.
I liked that the main storyline is resolved by the end of this book, but there are other tantalizing bits of story left dangling in front of the reader to entice me to pick up the next book. I want to know how the main villain managed to make so many human familiars without anyone noticing. I want to know who Blackskull was when it was alive. And I want to know if Grimsby will every manage to control his magic even despite the scars. So I will definitely be continuing with this series.
PS: I received an advanced copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.