Author: Benedict Jacka
Series: Alex Verus
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 34
(see below for breakdown)
Camden, North London. A tangled, mangled junction of train lines, roads and waterways. Where minor celebrities hang out with minor criminals and where tourists and moody teenagers mingle.
In the heart of Camden, where rail meets road meets leyline, you might find the Arcana Emporium, run by one Alex Verus. He won’t sell you a wand or mix you a potion, but if you know what you’re looking for, he might just be able to help. That’s if he’s not too busy avoiding his would-be apprentice, foiling the Dark, outwitting the Light, and investigating a mysterious relic that has just turned up at the British Museum.
This had everything I love about an urban fantasy book, complex magic system, investigative mage, reveals a magical side to London that is hidden from the rest. All of them are big ticks for me and Fated has them all in spades. The problem is I didn’t really like Alex Verus, the Main Character.
Not wholly liking the main character made this book a little bit of a struggle bus for me, its not that Alex is an unlikeable character I just didn’t bond with him. I found him rather dull. I did like the little hint of Noir PI style to the narration but overall Alex didn’t really grab my attention. For me the side characters of Luna and Starbreeze really stole the show, they had such interesting back stories and I hope they come into book two a lot more. I also really enjoyed a couple of the villians, they allowed for some really fun banter which I did find myself laughing at.
The plot itself was slow. There was a lot of background, worldbuilding and info-dumping, which I don’t always dislike if it is balanced out with moving the plot along. However, the main plot for this book was squeezed into the last few chapters. It felt we skipped over the interesting bits. The bits of worldbuilding I wanted to read and the elements I wanted to learn about and it just left me a little disappointed in the end. I still enjoyed the mystery and how it all played out, It just didn’t have me hooked, unable to set the book down.
The worldbuilding itself was awesome, I loved the incorporation of folklore and pagan/wiccan/witchcraft aspects into the magic system. It really made the magical world lurks just around the corner vibe feel real. I just wish it felt more incorporated into the plot.
I think I will have to continue on to the next book in the series to see if this is really a series for me. It really should be and I am hoping that now that the world is set up the second book will be more action packed and that I can learn to like Alex. Overall I enjoyed it and will give book two a chance.