(A Yancy Lazarus Novel)
James A. Hunter
Release: January 16,2015
Links: Goodreads Amazon
Summary: 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.Review: On New Year's Eve, I started watching Supernatural on Netflix. Two weeks later, I'm in the middle of season five. So I admit I may be inclined to see Winchesters where there really aren't any. But when Yancy Lazarus gets a call from his Marine-turned-monster-hunter buddy Greg, sets out for L.A. in the old car he lives out of, and gets attacked by a monster in his crappy motel room on the way, you can probably understand why I thought he must be Sam and Dean's long-lost cousin.
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 ass-hat 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 magical ass-hat before he hexes Yancy into an early retirement. Easy right? Stupid. Bleeding. Heart.
However, Lazarus is also a blues musician and a Vietnam vet. I thought the choice to make him sixty five was an interesting one. His character would be the dad or the sidekick in most stories. He's also sarcastic, ill-mannered and usually funny. His pop culture references are a little dated, but they fit his age.
Strange Magic has some great fantasy elements. I especially liked the scenes in The Hub, the magical realm that serves as a bridge between worlds, which feels like a modern day Mos Eisley. But I felt like there were too many of those elements introduced for a book this size - it's only about 200 pages. A few bombshells are dropped and abandoned, like an ex-girlfriend possessed by the Morrigan, that me saying, "Wait! What?"
I 'd like to know more about The Guild, the monster hunting organization that Greg works for, and Lazarus had a falling out with. I'd also like more explanation of the way magic works in this world. Lazarus draws on the elements and weaves them together to form constructs, but he seems to do it all inside his head. I want him to be gesturing or something when he holds a spell in his hand.
But there's a good foundation for the series to build on here. If you're looking for a quick read about mages and magical creatures, it's worth a look.
Recommended for fans of: Supernatural, The Dresden Files
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review