Author: Bellora Quinn and Angel Martinez
Publisher: Totally Bound
Cover Artist: unknown
Rating: 4.0 of 5 Stars
First in the AURA series
An unregistered human con wizard and a duty-bound, straight-laced elf cop. As New York explodes with dangerous creatures, their passion goes nuclear.
After a terrible magical accident at Berkeley created unpredictable holes between realities, all manner of non-human creatures started popping into our world. These displacements, called Random Anomalous Reality Events or RARE, have taken magic out of fiction and relocated it firmly in reality, resulting in a great deal of chaos and confusion. Displaced elf Valerian works with AURA, the Agency of Unnatural Resettlement and Assimilation, to intercept these beings as they appear in the human world, helping the peaceful ones and subduing the violent, malevolent ones. It’s good, satisfying work, and Val would be happy if he wasn’t so lonely.
Quinten is a young mage just trying to get by, but New York isn’t the easiest city to make a living in. If his methods are sometimes morally dubious, his heart is still in the right place. Of course, for Quinn, the right place means firmly locked away, protected at all costs. Living by his wits and sometimes magically induced luck, he works as a ‘freelance magic user’, or unregistered mage and small-time con, according to the authorities. The last thing Quinn wants is to draw the cops’ attention, but when an Event happens right on top of him, he’s forced to turn to AURA for help. Valerian isn’t at all what he’d expected in an AURA cop, and he certainly wasn’t expecting to join forces with the sexy elf, a snarky drow and a bitter incubus, when certain individuals in power try to stop the RARE by any means necessary.
Things are not all what they seem at AURA headquarters, and a greater evil lurks at the top than anyone could have imagined.
A bunch of Berkeley scientists have managed to blow themselves up while simultaneously ripping open the barrier between our reality and other, magical worlds. Oops. The resulting sudden, random appearance of magical creatures from other realms has created a new status quo; a world where elves and centaurs—and even stranger things—must help assimilate, comfort and control those beings who have fallen into our world.
What could possibly go wrong?
As always, I love the matter-of-factness of Quinn and Martinez’s set-up. Imagine New York City where a Yeti is a cop, and where elves take the subway to work. You know that after a few months of awkwardness, no one would notice anymore, right? But when the magic in the world was suddenly acknowledged, and magical creatures began to be part of daily life, it left some humans with magical powers, like Quintan, a little lost. Quinn (I don’t like that they spell his nickname like this—should be ONE n) is sort of an Artful Dodger character, and he makes his way through the world well enough, but not quite happily, weighted down by his own unhappy past. Until one day, trying to take care of a woodland Dryad who dropped out of nowhere on top of him, he runs across Valerian, a displaced elven battle prince who has become an officer with the magical creature control team in the city—AURA.
For all its fantasy framework, “Quinn’s Gambit” is an urban adventure story that merges power-hungry officials with morally dubious paranormal creatures in ways that unleash all sorts of trouble on the world. In the midst of this fun is the more intimate narrative of a stoic, grieving elf and a broken young man, both of them convinced that they don’t deserve happiness. The writing is good, the action is exciting and engaging, and the many characters that swirl around Quinn and Val are well fleshed out and have emotional heft. If you’re not a fantasy geek, you might have to Google some of the creatures, but that’s a small inconvenience. Bellora and Martinez create a rich background against which love and adventure can run amok in our imaginations.
I hope we’ll see more of these guys. And if I ever see an incubus on the subway,
I’ll give him my seat.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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