Author: Laurence MacNaughton

This is a well-written, action-packed urban fantasy.

I am not a fan of urban fantasy, or of the fantasy genre in general. I read (and write) science fiction. (And no, they are not the same thing, so shut up.) When I was asked to review MacNaughton’s novel as part of its upcoming book launch, I assumed — for reasons not entirely clear to me now — that it would be science fiction. Imagine my surprise when I realized it was an urban fantasy. I plowed ahead anyway and by the end of the first chapter, he had me hooked.

The plot is solid and believable (once you buy into the urban fantasy premise). It explodes out of the starting gate with the first sentence: “Dru Jasper had no idea that the world was prophesied to come to a fiery end in six days.” How can you read that and not keep reading? From there it’s a rip-roaring race all the way to the end, with unexpected twists and turns, the road littered with obstacles, and problems piling on top of problems. No major plot holes that I could see. A good story all the way around.

But plot isn’t the author’s strongest suit; his strongest suit is his characters. He creates a cast of well-developed characters that are each unique and convincing. He handles their individual voices all the way through with few missteps. By the end, you feel like you know these people.

The main character, Dru, has a personal growth arc that matches the story arc. By the end of the book, she is a different person than she was at the beginning. The supporting cast of characters are pretty much the same at the end as at the beginning, except possibly Grayson. But that’s all right because this is Dru’s story and is told entirely from her point of view as she battles both internal demons and external demons, to save the world from the apocalypse. Really. And it works. I totally bought into it.

I have one minor complaint: the author’s handling of Dru’s internal struggle to come to terms with what she is and who she loves. In both cases, he overdoes her repeated soul searching and self-denial. That might be intentional on his part; the bulk of the urban fantasy audience is women, and he may be catering to that. But it didn’t work for me. Having said that, it’s a minor flaw and may not strike everyone as a flaw at all.

A comment on the author’s writing skills: he’s good.

One more thing: the author has a dry sense of humor, which he puts to good use. This is a difficult line to walk, but he pulls it off. I especially liked Hellbringer, but I won’t spoil the fun by saying any more.

This book totally sucked me in. It cost me some sleep because I couldn’t stop reading it when my bedtime arrived. I usually read with a critical eye toward the author’s use of writing craft, but that went by the wayside. Good story, interesting characters, a satisfying ending that begs a sequel.

Rereading what I’ve written here, the only thing I seem to have left out is that the author walks on water in his spare time. Seriously though, the book really is that good. Take it from someone who doesn’t even like urban fantasy.

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