Author: James A. Hunter
Title: Strange Magic
Series: A Yancy Lazarus Novel 1
Rating: Four Petals
On the Author's Website:
Yancy Lazarus is having a bad day: there’s a bullet lodged in his butt cheek, his face looks like the site of a demolition derby, and he’s been saran-wrapped to a banquet table. He never should have answered the phone. Stupid bleeding heart—helping others in his circles is a good way to get dead.
Just ask the gang members ripped to pieces by some kind of demonic nightmare in LA. As a favor to a friend, Yancy agrees to take a little looksee into the massacre and boom, he’s stuck in a turf war between two rival gangs, which both think he’s pinch-hitting for the other side. Oh, and there’s also a secretive dark mage with some mean ol’ magical chops and a small army of hyena-faced, body-snatching baddies. It might be time to seriously reconsider some of his life choices.
Yancy is a bluesman, a rambler, a gambler, but not much more. Sure, he can do a little magic—maybe even more than just a little magic—but he knows enough to keep his head down and stay clear of freaky-deaky hoodoo like this business in LA. Somehow though, he’s been set up to take a real bad fall—the kind of very permanent fall that leaves a guy with a toe tag. Unless, of course, he can find out who is responsible for the gangland murders, make peace in the midst of the gang feud, and take out said dark mage before he hexes Yancy into an early retirement. Easy right? Stupid. Bleeding. Heart.
I received this book as an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Yancy Lazarus is a magic user of some repute, but he's also adrift in the world. Something in his past--the story doesn't go into detail here, although I suspect it might in a future book--made him feel like he had to leave his wife and kids behind. Now he's homeless, so when his friend calls for help with some strange murders Yancy heads his way. Except, the murders are only the beginning of the terrible fight that is brewing.
I can't decide if I enjoyed the characterizations of the world building more. Both were so well done. Yancy is the best characterization in the book. He's very sarcastic, but you can feel his heart in every sharp word. He has so much depth, from his love of the blues to the pain he feels from missing his family, and I believed in him. The rest of the characters in the story were equally dynamic and each brought something different to the story that helped round it out perfectly.
The world itself was also interesting. Magic exists, but most people aren't aware of it. There are different kinds of magic, all of which are tied to different belief systems or ability types. Hunter even had different dimensions that creatures could be summoned from. The amount of detail was amazing. My only complaint is I never learned how Yancy was introduced to the world of magic and how he started using magic himself, although I suspect that might be the plot of a future book.
I really enjoyed reading this story and immediately started reading the next one in the series. The characterizations and world building really gave the story the depth it needed. I absolutely recommend this story.
Maggie reviews paranormal and fantasy novels and novellas. She also interviews authors and hosts giveaways.