Review of NETGALLEY arc Blunt Force Magic – Book 1 of The Monsters and Men trilogy by Lawrence Davis

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I read several positive reviews of this one and took one look at the cover – and requested it…

Janzen Robinson is a man lost between two worlds. Five years removed from a life as an apprentice to a group of do-gooding heroes who championed the fight against supernatural evils, the once-promising student is now a package courier going through the daily grind, passing time at a hole-in-the-wall bar and living in a tiny, run-down apartment on the south side of Cleveland, Ohio. Then fate (or a case of bad timing) brings him face to face with a door that’s got his old life written all over it. From the ancient recesses of unyielding darkness known as the Abyss, a creature has been summoned: a Stalker, a predator whose real name is forbidden to be spoken aloud. It’s a bastardization of the natural order, a formidable blend of dark magic and primal tenacity. Its single-minded mission? Ending the life of a fiery, emerging young witch.

Though the cool cover shouts otherwise – at least to me, who thought this was going to morph into epic fantasy, this story is very much within the urban fantasy genre. That said, there are some striking differences that make this one stand out. Yes, Janzen has been selected as an apprentice due to his natural talent – however, that was a while ago. In the meantime, something terrible has happened to his mentor and he has spent the last five years just getting by. Therefore, while he does have raw talent, there is relatively little skill or finesse in his workings. I really like the idea that he is only half trained and that because of his chippy, mouthy character, he is also tricky to help, as he is often his own worst enemy.

That doesn’t stop him plunging into a desperate situation against a very dangerous opponent without too much thought about the consequences. This is partly due to his own bloody-minded nature and partly due to the survivor guilt he still feels.

While I’m always wary of assuming authors necessarily shoehorn their own lives into their writing, I was interested to read that Davis is a war veteran who served in Iraq. The young soldier who befriends Janzen is very well depicted and all the action scenes are effective and realistic.

In short, this one held me throughout. I liked the dynamic and the fact that there was no romantic relationship running throughout – a refreshing change in urban fantasy, these days. I also liked the scrabbling, somewhat desperate nature of Janzen’s opposition to the nasties ranged against him. I particularly appreciated the monsters – especially the stalkers, which are truly terrifying creatures.

All in all, this is a thoroughly enjoyable new series and I very much look forward to reading another slice of Janzen’s adventures – I hope Davies writes quickly. While I obtained an arc of Blunt Force Magic from Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.
10/10

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25 responses »

      • I do enjoy urban fantasy 🙂 I have eclectic tastes…anything from mystery/suspense/thriller to fantasy and sci-fi. I love a good story 🙂 Have a great weekend!

      • Thank you, Jo-Ann for your prompt answer. You sound like a reader after my own heart, though I’m less keen on the suspense thrillers… I hope that you, too, have a great week-end.

  1. This does sound really interesting. The cover and the not saying the predator’s name aloud makes me think the story might be a little creepy too.

    • No – it is fairly straightforward urban fantasy – think of a slightly scruffy, down-at-heel version of the Harry Dresden novels… But that is a VERY arresting cover, isn’t it?

  2. I am beyond flattered, thank you so much! If you ever want to talk, do a question thing in here or anything of the sort please let me know! And thanks for the support guys, it was really near and dear to my heart.

    • Oh you’re very welcome, Lawrence – and thank you for taking the time to drop by and let me know you enjoyed the review. I really appreciate it! I would be so excited to interview you on my blog:).

  3. Oooh, this one sounds like fun!
    The cover (gorgeous!) mislead me as well, but after reading your review, I’m definitely willing to give it a go. (I actually switched the tabs to add this book to my Goodreads list and I forgot to post this comment! So here it goes, this time for real…)

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