Urban fantasy is not a genre I’m well read in. Anyone who casually scans my usual book choices can ascertain as much. But in the last year, I’ve tried to change that by reading the first Harry Dresden novel Storm Front and a few short stories and Hounded set in Hearne’s Iron Druid Universe. So when I decided to pick up Spellblind, I at least had a couple Urban Fantasy novels to compare it to, and this first installment of the Justis Fearsson series really stacked up well against them.
Spellblind tells the story of Justis Fearsson, former investigator with the Phoenix, Arizona police force and current private investigator. But, naturally, there is more to Justis that it appears; in reality, he is a weremyste!
In this world, weremystes are a unique form of werewolf. They appear perfectly normal, act perfectly normal, and don’t seem to turn all hairy on certain nights. What makes them extraordinary is their magical ability, which depends on the moon for its power. The only drawback to the magic is that when the moon becomes full weremystes basically go insane. All semblance of reality fleeing them even as they reach their maximum magical apex.
Justis is no exception to this curse. But like his father before him, the magic means too much for him to take the drugs that would let him lead a normal life. The specter of its lose nearly as terrifying to him as the dementia and Alzheimer-like symptoms it finally inflicted upon his father. Plus, Justis really needs the magic to continue to do his job.
But why does a P.I. need magic, you ask?
Well, normally, Justis doesn’t – the insurance claims and adulterous spouse cases not requiring anything other than his law enforcement skills, but occasionally, he finds himself mixed up in crimes that defy explanation, called in as a consultant by his former partner, Kona Shaw, to aid Phoenix P.D. in their ongoing investigations. And since Kona is the only person other than his father who knows his secret – and because he really needs the money – Justis takes on these cases, utilizing his magical powers to aid his previous employer. And as Spellblind begins that is exactly what is transpiring.
You see, before his termination from the force, Justis and Kona were investigators on the worst serial killer case in Phoenix history. An especially nasty murderer who preyed on troubled teens and college students, burned out their eyes while torturing them, and always dumped their bodies in the desert. The gruesome nature of the deaths caused the local media to dub the assailant the Blind Angel Killer. And though Justis never got close to apprehending this psycho, he always suspected the killings had something to do with magic but could never prove it.
Fast forward to now. There has been another Blind Angel murder. This time the daughter of an immensely powerful state politician has been found tortured, blinded, and dead in the desert. The Feds have been called in to find the killer and do it fast. But Phoenix P.D. wants to apprehend him first, so that they will not be labeled incompetent, and soon Justis finds his phone ringing. But even as he agrees to help Kona Shaw out, he wonders if his weremyste powers are strong enough to deal with exactly what he is stepping into?
Overall, Spellblind was a really solid Urban Fantasy story. It had all the requisite elements: urban setting, supernatural creatures, magic, romantic entanglements, and mysterious plots. And David B. Coe weaves all of them together into a seamlessly entertaining novel that is never dull, constantly develops its characters, deftly reveals its mysteries, and wraps things up with a nice, realistic ending. Without a doubt, it is pure Urban Fantasy fun. Really.
The only criticism I could cast on the book is that it isn’t brimming with originality. I mean, even I (a UF newbie) have read and seen UF characters similar to those presented here, plots close to this one, and magical creatures related to weremystes, so none of the elements themselves surprised me. And so if a perspective reader comes to Spellblind searching for some re-invention of the Urban Fantasy formula, I could see them being sorely disappointed by this novel.
With that negative aside, however, I really enjoyed this first installment of the Justis Fearsson series. As I mentioned earlier, it was pure page turning fun, and I fully intend to pick up the next book to see what adventures have been sprung upon my favorite weremyste P.I..
Baen Publishing and Netgalley provided this book to me for free in return for an honest review. The review above was not paid for or influenced in any way by any person, entity or organization, but is my own personal opinions.