Harmony Black is much more than your average FBI special agent. In addition to being a practicing witch, she's also an operative for Vigilant Lock, an off-the-books program created to battle occult threats - by any means necessary. Despite her dedication to fighting the monsters threatening society, Harmony has become deeply conflicted about her job. Her last investigation resulted in a pile of dead bodies, and she suspects the wrong people are being punished for it.
While on a much-needed vacation, Harmony gets pulled back into action. This time, though, she's gone from solo work to being part of a team. Their target: the Bogeyman, a vicious and elusive figure...and the creature that destroyed Harmony's childhood.
Surrounded by quirky, fascinating characters as dedicated to one another as they are to their new partner, Harmony must learn to trust her team - and a new romantic interest - on a dangerous and deadly mission that conjures up memories she'd much rather forget.
©2016 Craig Schaefer (P)2016 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
What is not to love about this book? There's a nice mix of dark, gritty occult horror setting (think: Supernatural), driving police-procedural story (think: True Detective) and a competent, assertive, driven, and kick-ass main character (think: a witchy Dr Temperance Brennan) beating the hell out of demons to protect the innocent. In particular, the world building and characterization are fantastic - particularly in the audiobook, where the spot-on performance gives a massive boost to at least one crucial character (for I do declare, who couldn't love a certain well-spoken demonic gentleman when his words are sugar-coated in such a darlin' n'awleens accent?)
In full disclosure, I've listened to most of the Danial Faust books. You should too - at least to discount them - before starting on this, because there are immediate late-game spoilers for that series in the opening of this one. This series exists in the same world (God and Heaven are MIA, and we're all futilely slugging it out with Damnation until we end up there anyway), but drops the main problem with those books, which is Daniel Faust himself (a cowardly, psychotically selfish, sex-starved traitorous monster of a man whom Audible's profanity-filter for reviews prevents me from adequately describing here) in favor of the altogether more likeable Harmony Black. As my enjoyment of the Faust books was ruined by my growing hatred of the main character, having a protagonist who actually fights the forces of hell rather than just sleeping with them is an enormous bonus, and makes the world enjoyable for me again. That Harmony knows the fight is futile and knows the enemy is winning, but fights anyway, because no-one else is going to step up to do it otherwise is an enormously compelling basis for her character, and really gets you to care about her and her fight.
In terms of how that fighting is done, although Harmony Black is a witch, her biggest assets are her investigative rather than magical powers. Mad pyscho pyromaniac fireball-spamming wizards do exist in this world - and Harmony can throw down with them in a pinch - but her powers are explicitly more 'leveling the playing field' than 'leveling the building'. In almost all circumstances, Harmony uses the stopping power of her service-issue handgun over that of a lightning bolt (quicker, easier to do the paperwork for, and less tiring) and that gives the story a much more believable edge, as magic becomes the counter to specific problems, rather than the resolution to absolutely everything.
This is very much Harmony's book (and my one criticism would be that the book does absolutely everything it can to ram that down your throat, by having her personally invested in the case - pretty much to excess - rather than this just being another monster to kill) and that works to it's advantage so early in the series, as it gives us a real grounding in her story and motivations. It also really pays off in the ending, by giving her some closure on her traumatic childhood, and adding some real depth to her personality. For myself, I was really interested in a lot of the other characters, and to some extent Harmony's prominence steals the limelight from them - but I'm happy that development is coming later (we can see the setup for at least two of their stories in this book).
All in all, I'd heartily recommend this for anyone who likes the idea of a monster-killing FBI detective, or (like me) liked the Daniel Faust books while hating Daniel Faust. In general though, you should give this a shot whatever you like, because there is honestly enough in here to grab anyone and keep them coming back for more.
Great story, well thought out plot , moves along swiftly and holds you, grips you, in fact, enthralled with it's brilliant dialogue and good characterisation. The spoken version was excellently and powerfully narrated. Both the author and narrator are talented. Highly recommended
I've always loved books but find less time to read them lately. Long journeys + Audible = 2 birds 1 stone.. problem solved! Woohoo
What did you like or dislike?
I liked that this was a mystery story with the added supernatural elements to it but definitely not for kids. Adults like this stuff too!
Who would you recommend this to?
Anyone who enjoyed Harry Potter just for themselves, anyone who enjoys the fantasy elements to shows or books might like this tale.
Why this rating?
Because it's a great balance of story and otherworldlyness.
"Good FBI crime novel"
There are some paranormal/fantasy aspects to this novel, but they are not overwhelming. The narrator has an incredible voice range. Some listeners will likely feel she over performs. There are too many great audiobooks available to justify the time this one takes. NOT recommended!
"An Truly Entertaining Story"
I enjoyed the story highly. I also found narrator very good. Her take on the different characters was very interesting, especially Jessie. I look forward to the author's next one!
"a nice addition to my library."
easily as good as the faust series except I grow attached to narrators. I will say though this book was great in every way. author sets up his plots perfectly.
"Loved the book."
The main character in this book, Harmony, slash, Smash and dice their way through the world, one monster at a time.
And I had a good time listening all about it!
"Dresden File fans will enjoy this book!"
Great story! Similar to the Dresden Files, just there is a female protagonist vs a male. I will download the next in the series.
What an excellent story! Creepy and funny and speedy, grabbing your hand and pulling you along. Love it! Glad there will be more.
And I LOVE a narrator who fully commits to the performance, does all the voices and emotes along with the book. Ms Traister, BRAVO!!
"light fun, like watching a sitcom"
The FBI has a secret unit to track and neutralize the occult within US borders. Nuff said. But the characters are fun. I may look for a sequel when I'm in the mood for a light "read" in rush hour traffic.
"procedural urban fantasy"
an interesting book. It seems to be more about the procedures of the investigations then the flashing bang of magic.
"Entertaining Story, Reader too Stiff"
I really enjoy Craig Schaefer's stories and enjoyed both reading and listening to the whole Daniel Faust series. I will read this, but probably won't give another listen. The reader has a nice voice, but she is just too stiff and lacks a natural flow and emotion. It feels like she is reading with her slow pronunciation of each word.
The reader sounds like she is reading and doesn't have a natural flow. Her reading just doesn't work for me even though she has a nice voice. It feels stiff and practiced.
"Narrator made an average story better"
The story was a standard urban fantasy interesting but still intresting. The narrator was outstanding.
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