I rarely do this – but I am actually willing to compare this new author to my favorites. The team of Ilona Andrews and their “Kate Daniels” series and Patricia Briggs and her “Mercy Thompson” novels, are a hard act to follow. Intense storylines, fully developed realistic characters, exceptional world building, the list goes on and on. And, so far, the author of “Sleight of Hand” fits right in there with my favorites.
There are a lot of things to talk about, but first, a guilty admission. When I came across this book while looking at the “customers also bought” on my Kindle, I didn’t look at who wrote it. I clicked on it, saw the premise and the five star reviews, wanted a new author to read and snapped it up. While I am incredibly glad I did, I have to admit I was absolutely shocked when I went to do my own review and saw that the author was actually a male. I know,I know, it is prejudiced, but after reading the book, I was embarrassingly shocked that I was dealing with a “Mark” who could write a female character so exceptionally well. I really believed that I was reading a woman author. Guess that shows me, huh? Yes, Gordon writes exceptionally well, but I always figured that Ilona wrote Kate and Gordon wrote Curran, right? Well, that shows ME!
Henwick has written an exceptional urban fantasy. I would call it Urban Fantasy rather than “paranormal” for a few different reasons. First and foremost, the action is set in modern-day Denver. This is not ‘alternate’ Denver, but rather, a Denver as I know it myself. The story encompasses ‘paranormal’ beings, but in a fresh new way that was both believable in a scientific manner and highly interesting. There is action, suspense, a very likeable main character going through an incredibly tough time, and some exceptional additional characters. There are a couple of love interests (and one of them wedgies the shorts of some readers, but that is their problem) but the book doesn’t disintegrate into a ‘wham-bam-thank-you-mame’ as so many other fantasy books do. And come on, who falls in love and gets married in a week? Instead, Henwick focuses on the character development, the world building, the science and military/police procedure, all to the good of his story. Everything about the story is well developed and leaves plenty of room for exceptional follow-up novels. One of which I am very much hoping to read quite soon!
Amber is much more interesting than many (most?) of the other female characters out there today. Well, other than Kate, Mercy, and Jane, of course! She is ex-military and as such, is highly trained. However, she is also damaged, highly mature in some ways, immature in others. Strong enough to protect others, but in terrible pain herself. There isn’t the kind of instant sex you find in many books, but she is going through a vital change, which causes her to suffer from a heart-rending difficulties, both emotionally and physically. The creature she is changing into is ‘highly charged’ – much more so than she is comfortable with. Dealing with these changes will be interesting to watch, given the whole dynamic of the community she is moving into. It will be fascinating to see her grow and mature, hopefully without her falling into the whole “Anita Blake” sleaze fest. I like very much that there is a mixed dynamic in her love interests, to be honest – it is more realistic within the context of this bright new world that Henwick is developing. I look forward to a brilliant future with Amber and her friends and enemies, and hope very much that I can continue to be so wonderfully positive about this series.