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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Two Mini-Reviews: Crimes Against Magic by Steve McHugh and The Daemon Whisperer by Candice Bundy (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Order the book HERE
Read the Prologue and Chapter one HERE & HERE
Read prequel short story "Small Time Vengeance

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Crimes Against Magic is Steve McHugh’s debut novel and is a dual story feature. I was very much interested in this story because of its Jason Bourne-like origin. I approached the author and he graciously agreed. I wanted to see how the book would hold up since it promised lots of action, magic & intrigue.

Nathan Garrett is a sorcerer who is living currently as a thief in London, he however remembers his life only ten years past as he was born again on the floor of a warehouse not remembering a whit about his past life. His journey since then has been a quiet one, fitting in with the world and not alerting people to him. His world however is soon to change when he discovers that there are people that know about his lost identity and who are wanting to kill him for hitherto unknown reasons. He also is embroiled with his neighbors’ lives as the same people target their young daughter. In another plot thread we meet Nathan in the past roughly in the 15th century wherein he is on a mission to recover a young girl and a few English soldiers from a group of supernatural folk who kill without remorse and simply refuse to die easy. Both plot threads showcase a man fighting against forces much more powerful than him and trying to discover the truth.

This book for me a whole lot of fun for various ones, firstly the book has a very fast paced plot, beginning with the current timeline, things start unraveling very promptly and similarly in the second plotline things are already hellish to begin with but soon take an even deadlier turn. The storyline has huge dollops of action and intrigue in both timelines thereby making the readers interested in both and constantly turning pages to find out what happens next in both. I very much enjoyed this action-packed story as it does not waste any pages on unnecessary side-plots. The author manages to keep his story streamlined and make the readers hooked on to the happenings of the Hellequin chronicles. Another plus point is the mythology utilized in the story, not that it is an original take however it does twist certain known perceptions and presents a different take on a well-known mythos and wizard. 

The story deals with a primary first-person narrative and the author does a decent characterization effort with the narrator. The main character is presented as a cipher however in the second timeline we get a clear cut idea about who he is & what's his goal. This dual view into the character was a fun strategy on the author's part and with the way the story ends I'm very curious in regards to the plot direction of the future books. The story however lacks in certain areas namely on the world-building front. The story is presented in two different timelines however the world presented in both is a bit sketchy on the details and that might keep a few readers unhappy. Again it’s a tough line to balance the world-building needs against the story’s pace as too much description is often labelled as info-dumping and can be quite a turn-off for some. The author chose to go with the latter direction and so I’ll be looking forward to the second book to see whether he expands the world’s history as well as the character backstories.

This world can be easily described as UF-lite in regards to the world presented however the story has a lot of positive factors such as a fast-paced, action-filled story line with a plethora of twists. Steve McHugh is an author who shows a lot of flair and his book promises to give readers an exciting read a la Jim Butcher and Tim Marquitz. Crimes Against Magic is definitely a debut that should not be missed for all readers who want a great urban fantasy read.

Official Author Website
Order the book HERE
Read chapter one HERE

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: In regards to Candice Bundy’s The Daemon Whisperer, I was alerted to its existence by Steven Montano’s blog. I am a fan of his dark fantasy-thrillers and also his picks in regards to books have been along the same lines as my interests. Plus the book blurb promised a post-apocalyptic world wherein daemons are now present and can be summoned to our plane of existence. This book seemed to be a urban fantasy version of The Warded Man/The Painted Man. Therefore I was excited to see where the author would take the story and how she would develop the world. The author provided me with a reviewer's copy based on my inquiry.

Meriwether Storm is a daemon summoner who has become one due to the death/murder of her parents at the hands of one such daemon. She however doesn’t know which daemon caused this tragedy but she will do everything she can to find out its name. Every daemon summoner gets tattooed with the daemon’s sign/sigil and there haven’t been many with the amount of script that Meri has acquired. She however is still nowhere near to finding the name of her parent’s killer. Things soon take a weird turn as a daemon cabal approaches her with a potential job offer in turn for giving her the name she so fervently desires. What happens next is what readers will have to find out by reading the book.

The best part of the story is its fast pace and slightly twisted storyline; the author does her best to write a story that manages to bridge the storyline from its post-apocalyptic roots into the thriller components of the story. However the biggest surprise for me was the higher content of paranormal romance in this storyline than I expected. The story I felt had a great chance to showcase a gritty world, which has been changed irrevocably after the apocalypse and the presence of the Daemons on our plane of existence. However the author manages to sidestep this world-building front and focuses only on the story and the interaction between the main POV characters and reveals the truth about the Liminals. The book also has a great cover done by Amber Shah.

The author does write competently and also includes a touch of wryness to the proceedings and makes this tale much lighter than I would have expected. The story however doesn’t shy away from action and in the latter half of the book we do get some terrific action-oriented proceedings that help in setting up a terrific climax. Also I’m not a fan of PNR-heavy storylines and so this turn of events was one, which I didn’t particularly enjoy. Readers who enjoy PNR stories will find this turn to be a good one and one that is handled as classily as possible. I’m not an expert on sex scenes and so take my opinion on this detail of the story with a huge grain of salt. Lastly I would have loved to see more about the post-apocalyptic world and so I will be reading the next book to see whether the author expands the world on this front.

Candice Bundy has written the story, which she had planned to write. I perhaps had different expectations based on the blurb and that curtailed my enjoyment of this book. I think this is a good urban fantasy book but that which focuses on some things that I derive very little enjoyment from. This book is more leaning towards the paranormal romance subgenre than towards the urban fantasy subgenre. So be warned before you jump in to this book. This is however a good start to an interesting series and should be a book that should be enjoyable for readers of Nalini Singh and Jeanine Frost.


Kyle Stephen said...

Crime Against Magic seems an interesting book. I love reading action/adventure books and definitely the Bourne series.

The Reader said...

Hi Kyle

You might enjoy this book as its a light read mainly focussing on action, plot twists & a well-paced plot.


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