Sunday, February 3, 2019

Stray Magic (Strays, #1) by Kelly Meding

Title: Stray Magic
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Fantasy
Series: A Strays Novel (Book 1)
Format: Paperback; 416 pages
Publisher: Harper Voyager Impulse (July 24, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0062847686
ISBN-13: 978-0062847683
Author's Website:
Notes: I bought this one.

Eighty years ago, after World War II, the world learned that werewolves were real. They returned from the War among other revered heroes. Many myths were dispelled about them during that time, while others were proven to be true. In the golden post-War years, few seemed to mind them, at least not publicly. Most could handle people who turned into wolves once a month and lived with their Pack, secluded from the bulk of society. When vampires came out ten years later, however, things got ugly. Many people couldn’t seem to handle the idea of bloodsuckers living next door, buying blood from willing donors, and generally proving that, yes, some things really do go bump in the night. Not even the knowledge of how much control Masters had over their lines, or the care taken in choosing and turning new vampires seemed to assuage the bulk of folks—especially the religious ones.

Six years ago the Paranormal Investigation Units were officially formed—thanks to Julius  Almeida and a few well-placed friends—on the argument that unique abilities were needed to handle other unique abilities. Shiloh Harrison is a Federal Marshal in one of the two existing Paranormal Investigations Units. The units are a force unto themselves with practically no oversight from the Department of Justice. As long as they do what is expected of them and keep the peace, they are left alone.

When Shiloh receives a call from headquarters about a case, she figures it will be business as usual. She quickly realizes, however, that is far from the truth. Things go from bad to worse at an alarming rate. Vampires have taken over a trailer park and are holding the people who live there hostage. They're demanding someone look into why an alarming number vampires and werewolves have gone missing in the past six months. When Shiloh's boss Julius, the only human on their team, turns up missing she finds herself leading the team. As second in command, she's the logical choice to takeover the investigation. While she's run smaller ops before, she finds the scale of this situation to be a bit daunting. She'll need her whole team to help her get down to the bottom of what's going on.
This is the first book of the Strays series. I'm torn between calling this one Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Fantasy. The series has all the grittiness of an Urban Fantasy, but it takes place all around the US as opposed to around one or multiple big cities. For that reason, I don't think it can technically be considered Urban Fantasy by the traditional definition, but I can't seem to make myself go all in in calling it Paranormal Fantasy.

Shiloh is a kick-@ss heroine who reminds me a little of Mercy Thompson from Patricia Briggs' series of the same name. Like Mercy, Shiloh is a bit of an underdog in the supernatural realm, but somehow manages to surround herself with an excellent group of friends and acquaintances. She tends to inspire loyalty in others through her own actions. She's half human, half Earth djinn and, yes, she can grant wishes. For that reason she keeps her djinn half a secret. In the wrong hands her powers could be used for bad, however, in the right, those powers could prove to be the ultimate weapon. There are some limits as to what she can grant, but the range of what she can do is still impressive.

Shiloh's coworkers consists of a group of misfit supernaturals, hence the name Strays for the series, with unique abilities. Kathleen is a dhampire (half human, half vampire conceived during father's transition) who is stronger than she looks. Jaxon is a skin-walker who can change into his spirit animal's form. Novak is a fallen incubus who has retained many of his previous powers. Alone their skills may not be all that impressive, but together they're a formidable group.

There are some backstories that are hinted at, but not revealed that I'd love to know more about. I also feel like Shiloh is beginning to come into her own right before our eyes. She makes some mistakes along the way, seems a bit naive at times, but learns and adapts as she goes. Plus, she's got a good heart.

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. The series has some serious potential. Ultimately,  I enjoyed the story. There was a 'situation' that I could have done without, or at the very least would have preferred it to have been toned down, but that's just me.  I'm foregoing my romance rating for this one because there truly wasn't any real romance to speak of. A couple of sparks, yes, but true romance, no. That being said, in my humble opinion, this one should be bumped up to the erotic category. The  aforementioned 'situation' I talked of was of an erotic nature. I have no doubt that eventually a romance will develop, but for now I patiently await that time. This one kept a nice pace and kept me in its thrall. I definitely recommend it.
Funny after note:  Have you ever wished you could read the first book of one of your favorite series over again for the first time? Well, ironically, my wish may have been granted. Let me explain. I remember getting notifications that this book was coming out but wasn't in a position to read it or any other book at the time. I was fairly sick throughout 2018 having spent most of the year in doctor's offices, hospitals, outpatient surgery centers, and recovering from all that transpired. Sometime in June and July I read a handful of books, but am still unsure of all the ones I read. Last month I went to buy this one and found I'd already purchased it. I literally had no recollection of doing so. If that wasn't strange enough, when I went to read it, I found I'd already highlighted passages which meant I must have read it, right? As I began reading, I'd remember situations which happened as I read. This was truly a strange experience for me. I had a sense of déjà vu the entire time I read, yet could never remember what happened next until I got to that part.

After reading the book, I couldn't seem to stop myself from continuing on to the next book, as I managed to snare an eARC loan from the publisher. This series is quickly becoming one of my favorites so, if you're thinking 'Yeah, that must of been some book if you can't remember', bite your tongue. I could so sympathize with Shiloh when in the next book she loses some of her memories, but still feels the residual familiarity that comes from knowing you should recall some memory that you can't quite seem to latch on to. Dare I say this book cast a spell on me? More than likely it was the result of the multiple doses of anesthesia given to me throughout last year. I was put under a whopping six times with my longest stay in the hospital lasting around 7 or 8 days. Yeah, I can't quite remember the exact number of days my stay was. Go figure.

Order of Strays series:

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