Authors: Bellora Quinn and Angel Martinez
Publisher: Totally Bound
Pages/Word Count: 246 Pages
At a Glance: A fun read with an intriguing urban fantasy concept.
Reviewed By: Jennifer
Blurb: An unregistered, human con wizard and a duty-bound, straightlaced elf cop. As New York explodes with dangerous creatures, their passion goes nuclear.
After a terrible magical accident at Berkeley created unpredictable holes between realities—all manner of non-human creatures started popping into our world. These displacements, called RARE—Random Anomalous Reality Events—have taken magic out of fiction and relocated it firmly in reality, resulting in a great deal of chaos and confusion. Displaced elf Valerian works with AURA—the Agency of Unnatural Resettlement and Assimilation—to intercept these beings as they appear in the human world, helping the peaceful ones and subduing the violent, malevolent ones. It’s good, satisfying work, and Val would be happy if he wasn’t so lonely.
Quinten is a young mage just trying to get by, but New York isn’t the easiest city to make a living. If his methods are sometimes morally dubious, his heart is still in the right place. Of course for Quinn, the right place means firmly locked away, protected at all costs. Living by his wits and sometimes magically-induced luck, he works as a ‘free-lance magic user’, or unregistered mage and small time con—according to the authorities. The last thing Quinn wants is to draw the cops’ attention, but when an Event happens right on top of him, he’s forced to turn to AURA for help. Valerian isn’t at all what he’d expected in an AURA cop, and he certainly wasn’t expecting to join forces with the sexy elf, a snarky drow and a bitter incubus when certain individuals in power try to stop the RARE by any means necessary.
Things are not all what they seem at AURA headquarters, and a greater evil lurks at the top than anyone could have imagined.
Review: Urban fantasy was awesome when it first came out because it was so new. I devoured everything I could find. As the years have gone by, however, the newness has worn out, and while I still enjoy urban fantasy, more often than not I find the same ideas repackaged over and over. That is not the case with the first in the AURA series. While it does have the magic set in a major city, it’s a little different than the others. Due to a scientific accident, magical beings are pulled from their world into ours through a rift, and it’s a one way ticket.
I loved all of the characters in this novel. Each is unique and has their own personality that just shines on the page and adds to the plot. There’s Quinten, an untaught young mage who resorts to tricks to make a living. Then there’s Valerian, one of the AURA agents displaced through the rift. He’s struggling to live in our world and daily becomes darker and darker, even to the point where he contemplates suicide to escape the pain he’s suffering.
Even when the magic isn’t being used—or can’t be used—the novel just works. When there isn’t action, the authors spend the pages character building. I grew so attached to Quinten and Valerian that I cried several times through the book, aching as I saw them trying to just get by in a world that was beginning to reject them.
As an added bonus, there are interesting relationships and characters that will just make you laugh hysterically. The gay incubus who just wants to be left alone (anyone who knows what an incubus is will realize why this is just an utter fail for the poor guy), a centaur, and a drow and yeti in a relationship (bizarre, but too adorable for words, really).
If you’re a fan of urban fantasy, you absolutely must read this book. I know I cannot wait for the next book in the series to see where Quinten and Valerian’s relationship goes next!
You can buy Quinn’s Gambit here: