January 25, 2014

Book Review: The Grendel Affair

The Grendel Affair
A SPI Files Novel, Book 1
Lisa Shearin

Released: 31 Dec, 2013

ACE, mass market paperback, 292 p.
ISBN: 978-0-425-26691-5

We're Supernatural Protection & Investigations, known as SPI.  Things that go bump in the night, 
the monsters you thought didn't exist?  We battle them and keep you safe.  But some 
supernatural baddies are just too big to contain, even for us...

When I moved to New York to become a world-famous journalist, I never imagined that snagging a job at a seedy tabloid would change my career path from trashy reporter to undercover agent.  I'm Makenna Fraser, a seer for SPI.  I can see through any disguise, shield, or spell that a paranormal pest can come up with.  I track down creatures, and my partner, Ian Byrne, takes them out.

Our cases are generally pretty routine, but a sickle-wielding serial killer has been prowling the city's subway tunnerls.  And th murderer's not human.  The fiend in question, a descendant of Grendel - yes, that Grendel - shares his ancestor's hatred of parties, revelry, and drunkards.  And with New Year's Eve in Times Square only two days away, we need to bag him quickly.  Because if we don't find him - and the organization behind him - by midnight, our secret's out and everyone's time is up.

When the courier knocked on my door with my parcel I couldn't wait to rip it open.  And there, on top, was my very own copy of The Grendel Affair (TGA) and I just knew that this was the book to start with.  

I found TGA easy to fall into - and stay in - with none of the poor world building that jerks you out of the story.  On one hand you have Makenna.  A sassy woman who is finding sitting on the sidelines (as a rare, and therefore much protected, seer) a tad chaffing to her independent and adventurous spirit.  While on the other hand, her grumpy-puss partner, Ian, is more than a tad arrogant and annoying at the beginning.  He's the strong silent type, with a reserve of cool that you just hope gets prodded to bursting.  Between them, there is just some spark that makes you hope that Makenna and Ian become more than just partners.  With interesting back stories, I found that I quickly made a connection to these characters that pulled me into the SPI world.

Our heroine's colleagues - and boss - are very well described and fleshed out.  With the choice of supernatural creatures used very well suited to the characters, although not much of a deviation from most Urban Fantasy.  The real surprise for me was the Grendel.  It was awesome! So well thought out - and very descriptive - with a real arsenal of weapons at it's disposal.  I'd hate to be stuck in a room with baby one, let alone the adult.  

There are a few nice plot twists and turns (I would mention some great scenes but that would just spoil it for everyone!) that keep the story from becoming bogged down.  With additional characters popping up all over the place I was worried that Makenna might begin to lose her voice in the cacophony of personalities, but she is such a strong and plucky character that I never lost sight of her.

There was only one small negative for me, and that was because at one point I did find, after thinking that this story was somehow familiar, that the seers role is very similar to that of Katie Chandler in Shanna Swendson's MSI Inc series.  Not exactly the same, but close enough that I did get a tad sidetracked for a few moments trying to remember where I'd come across this situation before.

All in all, I loved this book.  It only took a few hours to read, but during those few hours I was totally absorbed with Makenna and Ian as they tried to save NYE from the Grendel.  Can't wait for book two due in August.

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