Dead Man’s Hand by James J. Butcher: Intriguing World

On the streets of Boston, the world is divided into the ordinary Usuals, and the paranormal Unorthodox. And in the Department of Unorthodox Affairs, the Auditors are the magical elite, government-sanctioned witches with spells at their command and all the power and prestige that comes with it. Grimshaw Griswald Grimsby is…not one of those witches.

After flunking out of the Auditor training program and being dismissed as “not Department material,” Grimsby tried to resign himself to life as a mediocre witch. But he can’t help hoping he’ll somehow, someway, get another chance to prove his skill. That opportunity comes with a price when his former mentor, aka the most dangerous witch alive, is murdered down the street from where he works, and Grimsby is the Auditors’ number one suspect.

Proving his innocence will require more than a little legwork, and after forming a strange alliance with the retired legend known as the Huntsman and a mysterious being from Elsewhere, Grimsby is abruptly thrown into a life of adventure, whether he wants it or not. Now all he has to do is find the real killer, avoid the Auditors on his trail, and most importantly, stay alive.

First, I loved the characters and the world. It is an interesting twist on witches and the way the magic is set up made me want to read more of this intriguing world. One of the best features of this debut novel by James J. Butcher is that he has created a unique and fun character in Grimsby. I especially love that Grimsby doesn’t start out wanting to be a hero or even feels up to the challenge but he’s resourceful despite his skills. 

For a debut novel, this is entertaining. Even though it doesn’t start as quickly as I would like with action, it quickly picks up and the ending is completely satisfying and a great set up for the next book. There is a bit more exposition than necessary but that is common from a first novel and that exposition does give us insight into the character and his world. 

If you like unique urban fantasy and want to see how the son carries on in the footsteps of his famous father, I can tell you it is an intriguing world with fun characters. I find myself intrigued enough to want to read more in the series. 

Rating: 4 out of 5 spells

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