Book reviewed by: Maria Schneider who is the author of Under Witch Moon , an urban fantasy that is not pulp or hard boiled, but does involve a witch. She reads almost anything, including thrillers, urban fantasy and mysteries of all sorts. You can find her work on Amazon.
If you like hard-boiled crime fiction and wizardry, this is the book for you. Hard Spell is edgy, dark and spell-binding.
It starts with: “My name’s Markowski. I carry a badge.” That sets the tone, and the succinctness gives you an idea of the pace: non-stop, turn the page, what happens next. It’s part thriller, part urban fantasy and still manages to have a detective with a lot of loyalty and passion for stopping those on the wrong side of the law, especially when they come after people he knows. Like any good pulp fiction there are clich├ęs–but Gustainis weaves in a unique flavor, some awesome world building and some creative characters. He has a lot to chose from: vampires, banshees, humans, and even an ogre or two. He creates his own history; a mash of witch hunt facts, modern day settings and creatures from both. Gustainis does it all with a flair that keeps the plot moving. For the first quarter I was skeptical–wondering at this “huge evil” and the “certain doom” that was ill-defined and a little too pat for a good plot, but as any good book does, that plot was filled in. There were no info dumps so it took some time to learn about Markowski, his past and the nature of the evil being fought. Markowski is not magical himself; he relies on his wits, his gun and after he proves himself, his partner.
Formatting: Chapter Breaks are completely missing so there are some extremely jarring transitions. From one paragraph to the next, the characters are suddenly in a different place or a new character that wasn’t in a previous conversation, is now talking. This is obviously a formatting mistake (Chapter Headings and page breaks didn’t make it in the Kindle version). Once I figured out this anomaly, it was not nearly as disconcerting.
Language warning: This is noir and involves cops, SWAT teams and crime. The language is not safe for work. It was natural in most spots, but probably could have been toned down in a couple of scenes without losing anything.
If you like Dresden Files, I think you’ll like Hard Spell. Today this book is only 99 cents!