#SPFBO | Once Lost Lords – Stephan Morse

About the Book

Humanity hasn’t been alone for almost two thousand years. Elves, wolves, vampires, all joined together with mankind to eradicate the ‘darker’ races and maintained a tentative peace until modern times. Society adapted, everyone has rules that help keep the peace in this modern era. Yet, absolute genocide is impossible when talking about creatures beyond the pale. Some hid, some buried, other were re-purposed.

Some, like Jay Fields, pass for human with a little bit extra. His abilities didn’t belong to one of the major races, but any information was buried along with the long dead boogie men. All Jay cared about was those closest to him and a job that let him hit people. He used to be a bouncer at a bar, a part-time enforcer for a loan shark, and even a fight club champion. That was four years ago, before betrayal by someone close sent him packing.

Now he’s back and trying to recover a life he left behind. Questions of origin aren’t his only problems. His ex-girlfriend is a vampire. His part-time boss doesn’t think he’s up to snuff anymore. There’s a missing elf who might have some answers, and Jay’s best friend is caught up in something dangerous…

260 pages (kindle)
Published in July 2017
Author’s webpage
Buy the book

This book is a round finalist for the SPFBO.

I enjoy the paranormal, probably more than I admit. Urban fantasy, when done well, really rings my bell. I like to see what authors can do with the world we are living in. Sometimes these books underwhelm me, sometimes they overwhelm me. Occasionally they fall into that sweet spot where I can sit back, get comfortable, and just enjoy the story being told.

Once Lost Lords falls into that category. It’s one of those urban fantasy books that just worked for me for numerous reasons. At first, I was a little dubious, I’ll admit. Not really because of the author or the description, but because I’m kind of sick of fantasy tropes, vampires, elves, etc. It just about takes an act of god to make me interested in a book when the word “elf” or “vampire” is used anywhere near it.

Once Lost Lords does have all of those tropey character types that generally put me off, but its written in such a way where that doesn’t bug me. Another example of what I’m getting at is the book Generation V by M.L. Brennan. That’s an urban fantasy book, featuring vampires, and I can’t even begin to describe how much I love that entire series. It is possible to break my vampire barrier, and when that happens, it usually is because the book is really, really good.

Enter Jay Fields, a man with a gift for finding things, and the muscle to pound people when needed. He works as a finder for his boss, who sends him out on missions to get money or find people for her. Jay’s past is kind of shadowed and mysterious. There are hints of what happened, what made him the way he is, that is dropped into the novel throughout, but I get the sense that a lot of Jay’s story is going to unfold as the series gets going.

Along with Jay are some secondary characters, his vampire ex-girlfriend who is a little obsessive, a woman who works at the bar, Julia, who comes from a wolf pack but hasn’t shifted into a wolf yet. Lots of sarcastic and dark humor woven in, and plenty of personal mysteries and situational tension to keep things going.

So Jay lands himself in the middle of all of this pressure. He’s been betrayed. He’s looking for a missing elf. He’s working for his boss, but that situation is strained, and his friend is into something dark and dangerous. A lot happens in this novel. It’s interesting to see how Jay evolves to deal with all of the stuff surrounding him, and how relationships form, and/or strengthen as things progress.

The world building was really interesting to me. I enjoyed the idea of humans having always known that these supernatural creatures always lived alongside them and the system of checks and balances that keeps everything flowing somewhat easily. There are laws and restrictions, and society has largely been formed with all of this in mind. Sometimes things get a little out of control, there are always fringes and darkness in every social construct, and Morse doesn’t avoid that. In fact, this book sort of strays to the darker side of things, and that is one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much.

Once Lost Lords was a really good book. Maybe it could have used a little more polish and some editing shine in places, but it was a lot of fun, and a different, darker twist on tropes. I really enjoyed Jay as a character, and I look forward to reading more in this series.

 

4/5 stars

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