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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Glass Predator by Craig Schaefer (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official Author Website
Order Glass Predator HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Long Way Down 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The White Gold Score 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Redemption Song 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Living End 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of A Plain-Dealing Villain
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Killing Floor Blues
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Winter's Reach 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Instruments Of Control 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Harmony Black
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Red Knight Falling
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Interview with Craig Schaefer
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Harmony Black Series Interview with Craig Schaefer

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Craig Schaefer was born in Chicago and wanted to be a writer since a very young age. His writing was inspired by Elmore Leonard, Richard Stark, Clive Barker & H. P. Lovecraft. After reaching his 40th birthday he decided to give in to his passion and since then has released twelve novels in the last three years. He currently lives in Joliet, Illinois and loves visiting museums and libraries for inspiration. 

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB:  For Harmony Black, practicing witch and government agent, defeating criminal masterminds and eliminating supernatural threats are all in a day’s work. She’s ready to fight, as long as she can count on her partner, Jessie Temple; her team at off-the-books special FBI unit Vigilant Lock; and her magic. But her latest case threatens it all.

A high-profile bank robbery reveals thieves with the same unnatural strength and turquoise eyes as Jessie, who was touched by the King of Wolves. Jessie becomes unstable, struggling with her inner beast, and Harmony’s magic is threatened by unexpected interference. Even worse, the women discover a secret their own handler may kill to protect, forcing Vigilant Lock to go off the grid.

From the smoky back rooms of Washington, DC, inhabited by the crooked elite, to the astonishing high-rises of corrupt upper-crust Manhattan, Harmony and Jessie fight to uncover and halt a mass conspiracy threatening US soil in a race against time—and hell.

FORMAT/INFO: Glass Predator is 315 pages long divided over forty-five chapters with a prologue, an epilogue and an afterword. Narration is in the first-person, via Harmony Black solely for the chapters and via third person for the prologue and epilogue via Al-Farsi, Linder, & Althea. This is the third volume of the Harmony Black series which is a spin-off to the Daniel Faust series

March 28, 2017 marked the North American paperback and e-book publication of Glass Predator and it was published by 47 North (Amazon Publishing). Cover design is by David Drummond. 

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Glass Predator was one of my most anticipated books for 2017 because of two reasons primarily it was written by Craig Schaefer, who has become one of my favorite authors after I read through almost all of his titles in the past year or so. Secondarily this book would give us a peek into Jessie’s past who has been a spectacular character (so far) and I was hoping that it would expand the worldview and world-building in all areas.

 The previous two books have been different from each other with regards to their genre scope and yet have propelled the main series story forward in an exciting way.

The previous two books also highlighted the past of Harmony & Kevin and with this one, Jessie Temple gets her turn. I was very excited by this prospect as you rarely get to read about characters who were trained by their father figures to be a serial killer vis-à-vis becoming a literal monster. Jessie’s past has been beyond tragic however she’s a terrific character in herself as to how she was able to rehabilitate herself and her mental orientation. Also this book further dwells into the whole Operation Cold Spectrum business that has been the main series arc since book one. All in all, this was one book from which I had sky-high expectations and I was a tad worried that how the author might be able to overcome them.

The prologue brings us a fascinating encounter between the patron of the Bast club in Chicago and one of the demons who call Chicago their home. In a way, both these characters serve as bridge for the Circus team’s activities in both books. We get an inkling of what’s on the agenda for Harmony and her team. Presently then the story shifts its narrative to Nashville, Tennessee wherein Harmony, and Jessie are trying to capture & nullify Hostile Entity #138 (readers of the previous books can easily guess who this is). Events unfold in a weird pattern as they usually do and soon the team is pulled off to head to New York because of a strange bank robbery. The reason why it’s so strange is because of the nature of the robbery and the robbers themselves. Showing characteristics similar to Jessie with her lupine edge, this immediately brings into question the nature of the ritual that created Jessie’s current nature and what really happened with her father.

Soon thereafter the team is forced to race everywhere as certain events unfold and Harmony & Jessie both find their powers to be checked due to reasons specifically mentioned in the book. The main plot of the book deals with Jessie and her past but the author also inserts a lot of threads from the past books as well those from the main series arc. This book has a lot of payoff for the readers as things have been building up since the first volume and not only in this series but the world (readers of the Daniel Faust series will vocally vouch for this). The world has been in a state of flux due to certain past events that have been mentioned in this series as well those that have recently occurred in Faust’s region. There’s something building up and the author very crucially mentions events in this book as well as The Castle Doctrine (Daniel Faust #6) that seem to hearken the same. Another cool factor was that the events of both books occur concurrently (or at least within the same timeframe give or take a few weeks). There are things that occurred within that book whose importance we only find out in this one, also certain events that are mentioned within The Castle Doctrine, the reader will get to see them played out first hand over here.

This book also brings back characters from the first two books, some of them fan favorite ones, others not so much. I loved how one such character is given a spotlight and I can’t wait to read more about him in Craig’s short story that will be featured in URBAN ENEMIES anthology that will be out later this year. Also the author brings to a crucial end to a budding romance that Harmony had enjoyed so far and while I wasn’t a fan, it didn’t detract much from the story. However with this certain change, I believe it stands truer to Harmony’s character and the difficult path that lies ahead. Lastly this is a minor spoiler but there’s a character introduced called Marie Reinhardt, as a fan of Craig’s previous work The Revanche Cycle, I was beyond thrilled to see Marie’s introduction and fans will certainly find out more about her in future works by Craig.

This series so far has been a fun one in spite of certain dark moments that we readers have seen so far. One crucial aspect of this has been the friendship between Harmony and Jessie and the hilarious banter that Jessie fosters on Harmony. Their bond is one of the main thing that the author explores and in this book, it gets severely tested (but not for the usual reasons seen between two females in the urban fantasy sub-genre). Kudos to Craig Schaefer for bucking the trend and giving us characters who seem real and don’t’ get subjected to genre tropes. Another aspect of this book which I must highlight is the action, in the previous two books it was less in person and more generalized. This book brings it all down to the person (particularly apt with the on-goings of the story).

Now on the drawbacks of this book, there are only two that I could think of. One of the most crucial aspects that the main plot hinges upon is what happened to Jessie in the past vis-à-vis her father’s proclivities. I would have loved to see some flashbacks that dwelled upon this or even those that focused upon her rehabilitation and rescue via another member of the Circus team. I believe the readers would have gotten a fuller picture and because no such extensive flashbacks exist, some readers like myself might feel a tad disappointed. I think the author mentioned in one of his correspondences that the main reason for doing so was because of the plot pacing. I understand that but was disappointed nonetheless.

Another minor drawback for me was that we still don’t know much about Operation Cold Spectrum, this has been strung along since the past three books and I was expecting that we get to know more. Not the case and it seems that Craig Schaefer will be revealing everything in the fourth volume aptly titled Cold Spectrum. One key tidbit is delivered in this book and it relates to Douglass Bradford so please be on the lookout for the line whenever Douglass Bradford is remembered.

CONCLUSION: Glass Predator is a book that managed to upend my expectations and made me even more excited for the sequel. It's one of the few books that while seemingly a thriller, also is a story about friendship and the bonds that bind a team. Glass Predator is definitely one that most readers shouldn't miss and especially anything that Craig Schaefer releases.


Melissa (My words and pages) said...

I need to finish the other series of Craig's before I start a new one. But this does sound like my kind of read. :) Thank you for sharing about it.


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