The Grendel Affair – Lisa Shearin

About the Book

We’re Supernatural Protection & Investigations, known as SPI. Things that go bump in the night, the monsters you thought didn’t exist? We battle them and keep you safe. But some supernatural baddies are just too big to contain, even for us…

When I moved to New York to become a world famous journalist, I never imagined that snagging a job at a seedy tabloid would change my career path from trashy reporter to undercover agent. I’m Makenna Fraser, a Seer for SPI. I can see through any disguise, shield, or spell that a paranormal pest can come up with. I track down creatures and my partner, Ian Byrne, takes them out—usually saving my skin in the process.

Our cases are generally pretty routine, but a sickle-wielding serial killer has been prowling the city’s subway tunnels. And the murderer’s not human. The fiend in question, a descendant of Grendel—yes, that Grendel—shares his ancestor’s hatred of parties, revelry, and drunkards. And with New Year’s Eve in Times Square only two days away, we need to bag him quickly. Because if we don’t find him—and the organization behind him—by midnight, our secret’s out and everyone’s time is up.

304 pages (paperback)
Published on December 31, 2013
Published by Ace
Author’s webpage

This book was sent for me to review by the publisher.

I’ve been on an urban fantasy kick recently, which is weird for me, but it is also just what I need right now. Life has been stressful and sometimes I just need to unwind. Urban fantasy tends to give me light but fun books that are quick reads. When I’m stressed, that’s what I need. The Grendel Affair hit my mailbox at just the right time. It did what I needed it to do perfectly.

The Grendel Affair is a sort of hybrid police procedural/governmental sort of book with a quirky main character who is easy to laugh with (and at), but also easy to sympathize with. Makenna is one of those characters that will probably seem rather cookie-cutter, and she is in many ways, but she’s endearing despite that. She has a quip for just about everything. She seems to have a knack for getting herself into ridiculous and unpredictable situations, and she’s also incredibly pretty. It’s all the things that most authors write into their urban fantasy characters, but despite all of that, she’s a lot of fun, and most importantly, she makes mistakes, and those mistakes often propel the plot.

Supernatural Protection & Investigation is one of those super-secret agencies that is out to police all of the nasties that the humans can’t know about. Again, that is fairly cookie-cutter. I’ve read a lot (a lot) of books involving an organization of that nature before. However, Shearin does a great job at really fleshing out how the organization is ran, and the power struggles that are involved in it. There is a distinct chain of command, and it is nice to see that her characters don’t just have free reign. Instead, Makenna and her cohorts have to function within both social and organizational boundaries. This might seem like a weird thing for me to point out, but it is nice to see these small realistic details thrown into the books I read. It makes them feel so much more realistic.

The supernatural creatures are both fairly typical and rather unique and entertaining at the same time. For example, how many books have you read where one of the characters is an actual dragon hidden behind a human mask (of sorts)? It’s entertaining, but aside from that, there are the all of the creatures you’d expect, like vampires and werewolves and etc. While they don’t dominate the readers time, they are there, and I was kind of let down by how typical they felt.

The plot moves forward at a rapid pace, often skipping from one chaotic incident to the next with very little time in-between. In fact, I ran into the same problem with The Grendel Affair that I often run into with my urban fantasy. For the life of me, I can’t figure out how these people pack so much activity into one day. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a trend I tend to notice with a lot of the urban fantasy books that center around mystery and plenty of action. However, this also means that The Grendel Affair pulls you in almost instantly and doesn’t let go until you read the last word. No matter how you look at that, it’s a good thing, and Shearin has a knack for really absorbing her readers in her book.

You might see me toeing around the one primary issue I had with this book, and I guess it is time for me to come out and just say it. The Grendel Affair is tons of fun, but it’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect from an urban fantasy book. Our protagonist has a knack for finding herself in trouble. There’s alluded-to sexual tension. There’s plenty of action and a mystery that only Makenna can solve as the primary focus of the novel. It’s all stuff that I’ve seen before, but this is kind of different. The Grendel Affair is very well done, no matter how you cut it. It’s a load of fun and the fast pace is just right.

I almost hate saying that a book is popcorn, because so many people think that’s a bad thing. The truth is, it really isn’t a bad thing. Not every book I read needs to be some challenging novelty that redefines the way I look at literature. Sometimes I want to sit back, crack open a quick, fun, lighter read, and just enjoy myself. In times like that, The Grendel Affair is the perfect medicine. Is it perfect? No. Will it make you rethink how you looked at Shakespeare’s epic works when you were in college? No. It’s fun, and well written, and sometimes that’s more than enough. I look forward to seeing where Shearin takes this series next.


4/5 stars


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