Eos books sent me this novel to review from debut author Margaret Ronald.
The setting is Boston, where a large Irish migrant population goes hand in hand with this urban fantasy moving away from the usual werewolves and vampires, and takes it's supernatural aspects from celtic mythology. Evie Scelan is a bike messenger with a side business as a Finder. Her nickname is Hound because Evie has an ability to track things with scent. At the start of this book, Evie gets a mysterious phone call from ex-lover Frank. Despite her reservations with who he may be mixed up with, and the warning on the phone, she begins to investigate his disappearance.
"He speaks to you to say farewell. I speak to you to warn you, for I may have damned you with my words"
"Hound, watch for a collar. The hunt comes…"
When I started reading this book the first time, I made the mistake of reading it before going to bed, so I was tired. This book, like most urban fantasies, throws you in midstream and I felt confused about things hinted at in the first few pages. The phone call is the beginning and I didn't understand how Evie related to Frank, and then soon afterwards how she related to other characters she ran into. I ended up putting it down, but bogormen convinced me that things got better, and I picked it up again. This time all the references to the magic in Boston, Evie's past, and her avoidance of showing up on the radar of a shadowy group called The Brotherhood started to make more sense. By around page 100 I had enough to grasp the world and enjoy the story itself. The city of Boston is a nice backdrop and I'm sure Bostonites would recognize many landmarks in Evie's adventures.
Evie is a relatable heroine who thankfully doesn't do overly idiotic things, she goes into situations with her eyes open, but still gets into trouble despite her best intentions. She is a no nonsense, working class gal, trying to survive on her own who has a hard time letting other's in because of her talent. Her soft spot seems to be kids and older people, which shows itself through the course of the story. Her circle of friends is small – a couple of people she knew in school, a black-market magic associate, and a brief mention of coworkers at her messenger job, but I hope that as the series continues that Evie will start to open herself up to others. I thought I saw a lowering of walls in a couple of instances in this book and the hint of a possible romance. Her character was my favorite part of the book.
I don't know much about celtic myths, but I knew enough to recognize some of the names of the major dieties, so it was a refreshing experience to read an urban fantasy that references that mythology and I wanted to know more about it after finishing the story. While the bad guys in this tale seemed to be shrouded in mystery until the second half of the book, once all the parties involved in the mystery that Evie unravels show up, this becomes an absorbing read.
I felt that this book had a satisfying ending (I saw this mentioned elsewhere and I agree), even though it is the start of a series. I was happy where it stopped with the promise of more to come. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens to Evie and her friends in book 2. I'd recommend this one to urban fantasy fans.
This book comes out on January 27th, 2009. From the author's website I see 3 books planned for now.
My review is for an Advanced Readers Copy so FYI I'm not sure the quotes I posted will exactly the same in the final version.