Blunt Force Magic by Lawrence Davis (WildBlue Press)
It took me a short while to get past the way the author interrupted action scenes with reflections, but those were in the past tense and well done—so I quickly fell into the rhythm of one of the best urban fantasies I’d read in years. Despite the fact that he’s protecting a city—Cleveland, not Chicago—this is in no way a riff off of Harry Dresden. Janzen is a product of a concrete jungle, a young ghetto hood who just happened to have talent as a magic artificer. As someone who crafted magical weapons, badly, he used to be on the edges of the group of ragtag paranormal entities and talents that protected the city. When they were all massacred he left the profession.
Until he happened upon someone who was about to get killed by an ancient evil.
Despite guilt, a low opinion of his abilities, and crushing opposition Janzen felt that someone had to stand in the gap. And he ends up not being as alone as he thought he was.
So fans of the Dresden Files will love this, but it’s not a knockoff: it’s a whole new bunch of characters to love, surprising situations, great plotting, and the book has heart. It’s also occasionally funny as hell, but in a completely different way than most urban fantasies. Imagine a modern and surprisingly powerful elf mom who makes our hero, in dire straits, wait until she helps her kids finish their homework and orders him to wear his seat belt or she’s not going anywhere. Imagine the proprietor of a bar and restaurant getting tricked into providing magical protection for a friend and then taking it out of your hide with a year of apprenticeship to her…bouncer. Just wait until you meet his Rambo of a deaf partner: the interactions between Janzen and Grove make the book and will delight those who enjoy military fiction. The magical system is unique while still grounded in our common, shared nightmares.
I cried at the ending, it was so perfect. And it’s book one of a series so we get more!