Benny has lived her life in the shadows, avoiding the public eye. Her life as a recipe blogger pays the bills and lets her socialise, but she is about to get the assignment of a lifetime.
Her boss orders her into a one-week ride-along with agents of the XIA, the eXtranormal Investigation Agency. It is the anniversary of the agency, and they need to improve their exposure with the general public.
Against her objections, she is paired with a standard set of agents—a vampire, a shifter and a fey. They are willing to work with her, and it is only when she signs the waivers that she learns why. They all read her column.
A week doesn’t seem like much time to learn about an organisation that deals with things most folk don’t enjoy thinking about, but it whips past when the assignments go from casual crime to murders that have one pivot point. Benny.
Comment: And here we are, for another TBR Challenge, again hosted by Wendy, the SuperLibrarian.
As always, January means short reads. Yes, the themes are optional, but my favorite part of this challenge is to try to match a book to the theme.
For this month I picked a new author for me, I confess I had no expectations, I didn't read any reviews prior to start it, I only read the blurb when I decided to download it from Smashwords in an event where it was possible to download some free ebooks in a certain timeline. I got some books this way but I haven't gone through them all yet.
This book is the first of a trilogy that apparently will continue to a second trilogy but featuring characters not the ones in this first one.
In this book we meet Benny, a young woman who has a successful recipe blog and in this paranormal world created by the author, there are several supernatural characters, species, beings and somehow, Benny is charged by her boss to follow a team of agents for a while so she can write about their routines and preferred foods and such.
Benny meets her three agents and is immediately drawn to them, they seem to be interesting people. During her first day, she sees the agents in action, going through the most routine issues to a case where it gets complicated and Benny herself gives a hand. The fact is, Benny is only part human and her knowledge of magic does come as a help when necessary. When things get too difficult, Benny asks her parents for help, she trusts the agents and realizes someone or something is after her...
Although this seems complicated, too confusing because it's about a new world, the plot is quite easy to follow. I really liked to immerse myself in all kinds of details about the several species addressed in this world, from shifters to fey, from vampires to demons and many types of beings one would "insert" in the major species.
In fact, this was probably my favorite aspect of the whole book, I really loved how structured some hierarchies were and how populated the world was with paranormal beings.
One could divide the plot into two main subjects:
Benny's interactions with others and the mystery they are trying to solve.
When it comes to the investigation, the mystery, I don't have much to say because my main interest wasn't there. I guess that, for such a short story - around 112 pages - things did make sense and were presented in a way I could consider satisfactory. This is no incredible psychological thriller but it fits the bill, especially since it offers more details about the people and beings who inhabit the world.
What I really liked to read about were Benny's interactions with others. Things were subtle enough but it becomes apparent Benny can't romantically pick one of the agents and all are getting bonded in the sense they are a team and worry and care about each other. No sex happens which is something I didn't expect and does make me eager to read the next one.
I liked Benny, I liked the agents, I liked their "adventures".
What I probably didn't get - or perhaps I wasn't paying attention - was why Benny had to be with them considering she is a blogger. Yes, a successful one, a person whose work many readers follow but...oh well. Just weird.
This book isn't perfect of course and I've seen many readers complain about the writing, the story, everything. I also would say that the way things are presented to us seem so sudden. There is no preparation or a sort of introduction to this world and the information given is very quick and it's done almost as if we are supposed to know things previously. This made the beginning a bit odd and not as easy to understand but with time, things improved.
While this won't be up for any narrative prizes or the best book ever, I think it had enough elements to keep me interested and I'll definitely read the next one one day.
It was different enough for what I usually read these days and that was a positive surprise for sure.