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The Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin

The Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin
Book Name: The Grendel Affair
Author: Lisa Shearin
Publisher(s): Ace
Formatt: Paperback / eBook
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy
Release Date: December 31, 2013 (US) February 20, 2014 (UK)

New York City.

The city that never sleeps is also the first one to be invaded by aliens, face end-of-the-world natural disasters, or signal the beginning of human extinction by some out-of-control technological creation. So, of course it is fitting for NYC to take center stage in a new urban fantasy series where a secret organization works to shield humanity from the reality of supernatural beings. Not the most original premise for a story, but what caught my attention was the supernatural in question. Remember your Norse mythology? How about the creature that hated loud parties and kept eating the revelers until Beowulf ripped its arm out, causing it to bleed to death in its mother’s home? Yep, it would be that Grendel, or rather its descendant.

Supernatural Protection & Investigations, or SPI, works toward keeping the peace between supernaturals and humans by maintaining the illusion that allows humans to live happily, oblivious to the truth. The worldwide organization employs seers, people who have the gift of seeing through any disguise, veil, or glamour that the supernaturals cloak themselves with amongst humans. SPI goes after the ones who insist on seeing humans as food or otherwise expendable.

Makenna Fraser comes from a long line of seers. Her family has made it their duty to help keep the predators in check. Makenna’s dream of becoming an investigative reporter fails to pan out when all she could get was a job at a tabloid. Lucky for her, one of her headlines caught the eye of her new employer, SPI, and she becomes their official seer. As seers are tough to come by, Makenna is well-protected by her teammates, as she has yet to be trained to protect herself, oddly enough. Her partner, Ian Byrne, lost his previous partner to a ghoul and refuses to let Makenna anywhere near the line of fire. However, once murder victims are found in pieces – with a couple of parts missing – options are running out as the ringing in of the New Year may also open the eyes of humans around the globe to their otherworldly neighbors.

Written from Makenna’s point of view, we get a lot of info dumping in the beginning. Makenna is a glass-half-empty kind of gal, so there is a lot of running sarcasm, which makes for a humorous read. However, when every other line started sounding like a punch line or wisecrack, I realized I did have a saturation point for witticism. Halfway through the book, it began to wear me down and made the tense situations a bit on the farcical side. The pacing was slower than I’d like, due in part to the constant one-liners. It did pick up towards the end when there were little surprise plot twists sprinkled in here and there.

There’s not a whole lot of character development going on, but there were a whole lot of characters introduced. Judging from the book cover headings (“A SPI Files Novel” and “First in a New Series”), I am willing to give the author the benefit of the doubt that subsequent installments will fill in the gaps. I really did enjoy the secondary characters, though: a Russian werewolf, a Scandinavian soldier who is a throwback to the Vikings of old, and a chillingly stoic vampire as second-in-command to the dragon boss lady. Add in a Japanese half-elf, a bunch of ghouls, Grendel spawn, and a mysterious shifting adversary, the cast of characters is pretty well-rounded.

As for the main characters of Mac (Makenna) and Ian, the bond is just not there yet. It may evolve in subsequent books, as the partnership is fairly new, but the hint of a possible romantic involvement at the end felt rather forced. Much more depth needs to be added to these characters before another subplot can be explored adequately.

If you like your fantasy reads to be on the darker side, this book is not for you. However, if you are looking for a light, comical read with a multi-mythological variety and lots of good action scenes, give this new series a try. Lots of potential for some great backstories is there for the multitude of characters, which I’m sure we will see in future installments.


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