Flight From Death
(Fly by Night #1)
Release: July 7, 2015
I’m Shimmer, a blue dragon shifter. Thanks to a mistake, I was exiled from the Dragon Reaches and sentenced to work for Alex Radcliffe, a vampire who owns the Fly by Night Magical Investigations Agency. Now, not only do I have to adapt to Earthside culture, but every time I turn around, somebody’s trying to kill us. And worse, Alex is as gorgeous as he is exasperating. But you know what they say: All’s fair in love and bounty hunting…Review:
When an old friend of Alex contacts him about a haunting at the High Tide Bed & Breakfast in Port Townsend, Washington, we think we’re on a simple ghost hunt. But our investigation quickly transforms into a deadly fight as we uncover an eighty-year-old murder, a cursed house, and a dark force trapping the spirits within. To stop impending disaster we must break the curse and lay the angry spirits to rest.
While I was waiting for Flight From Death to come in at the library, I read Galenorn's novella Flight From Hell. It's a prequel to the Fly by Night series, as well as a transition from her Otherworld series (which I haven't read.) The novella introduces Alex and Shimmer from the point of view of one of the D'Artigo sisters, the stars of the Otherworld books. In it Alex and the sisters rescue Shimmer from a vampire's thrall. That vampire and the events in the story are referenced in Flight From Death.
I have mixed feelings about whether I would recommend others read the prequel first though. If you've already read the Otherworld series, go for it. I felt like there were a lot of characters to keep track of for someone brand new to Galenorn. Each of the three sisters has multiple spouses or partners that they referred to a lot even though not all of them actually appear in the story. (They remind me of Anita Blake that way.) I did learn more about the vampires and other creatures in this world than I would have otherwise. Galenorn uses the traditional Dracula "need invitations, have no reflections, turn into bats" mythos, but Alex and Patrick never use their bat forms in Flight From Death.
My main issue though is that Shimmer comes off incredibly naïve and not very likable in the novella. I probably wouldn't want to read a book about her based only on that impression. Some of that naivety remains in Flight From Death, but it's more culture shock than ignorance. For example, she hasn't learned to drive yet and she has hit or miss knowledge of pop culture - she misses Star Trek references, but talks about Ghostbusters. But I found her struggle to adjust to a new city and make new friends quite relatable. And I really enjoyed learning about her dragon side and seeing her transform underwater.
I loved the supporting cast for this new series. Fly by Night Investigations' receptionist is a leathery skinned, chain smoking, dirty old woman, who also turns into a snake. Their tech guru Ralph is a werewolf who can't stand the sight of blood. But the best Chai! He's a djinn who comes to visit Shimmer from her home realm. He's incredibly powerful and can be quite useful as long as you don't actually ask him for help. His djinn nature will compel him to screw you over. What's so funny is that he's completely upfront about being devious.
I liked the ghost story centered around the bed and breakfast and the other creatures that Galenorn brought into the mix. They were an unexpected twist and something I hadn't seen before. I also really enjoyed the scenery as the group travels from Seattle to Port Washington. Galenorn did a great job of giving me the sense that I was seeing it all for the first time along with Shimmer, while not letting me get bored on the journey.
Overall I really liked this story, but I had some issues with the writing. I haven't read enough from Galenorn to know if it's just her style or if it was a conscious decision to make Shimmer, the first person narrator, have an imperfect grasp of the language since she's new to Earthside, but it really drove me nuts. And since the first time it happened was on the first page of the book, I was tuned in to it the rest of the way through. I apologize in advance for the following Word Nerd Rant: the phrase "big-assed knife" implies that the knife literally has an ass, in which case it's rude to fat-shame the weaponry, whereas the phrase "big ass knife" simply contains an expletive comparable to "big f-ing knife." That little grammar faux pas happened several times, but there were other examples where Shimmer's language was just slightly off. If not for that, I probably would have given Flight From Death another star.
I'm still planning to read the next book in the series since I like the characters and I want to know more about them. I just hope I don't feel compelled go to after it with a red pen again. I doubt the library would appreciate that.
Recommended for fans of: Vampires, dragons and ghost stories