B|t|B Review : Fated -Benedict Jacka (Alex Verus Series book 1)

jacka_alex_verus

***Warning Review Contains Spoilers***

Fated is the first in a Urban Fantasy series about a mage named Alex Verus.

This novel is a great introduction for to the world of urban fantasy series. It has a lot of what you’d expect—magical people doing magical things in a modern setting, with enough emphasis on the setting to make the story both original and believable. It also has some original elements that I found particularly intriguing, not least the fact that the protagonist’s main powers are passive and seemingly weak compared to others in the story.

Our main Protagonist,  Alex is a bit of a shut in, he owns a shop in Camden town.. oh and can see possible futures as he is a diviner. He has to rely on sorting through the futures, his intelligence and the occasional use of the martial arts that he studies in order to get the job done. This makes Alex more of a thinking man hero as opposed to a reactive/shoot first and ask questions last hero.  He doesn’t have power over the physical world (e.g throw fire or drain life energy). Much to the relief of his enemies, he is enough of a pain in the butt without that kind of fire power. I feel this book is for those who like to see the magical battles without all the spellwork and spellcasting along with it, Mr. Jacka does a wonderful job explaining this magic system within which Alex operates. Which can lead to some disturbing parallel possibilities which are often explained, as part of the selection process.  The world building (magic world in plain sight) is exceptional. There are references to myths and supernatural creatures that are seamlessly woven into the story adding to the richness of the magical world.

In this first instalment we meet Alex as he is going about his usual business in his little Magic shop in Camden, London. His stores wares mostly Hocus Pocus, undercover in plain sight he explains. But he does have real magical wares hidden among the guff. He and his assistant Luna, together they often obtain, collect and catalogue magical artefacts that they find around the London area, there seems to be 3 basic categories, those that go on sale, those that are locked away and those that Alex needs in order to keep himself safe from what seems at first a slight crippling paranoia of being suddenly attacked at any time he is not in his shop, which doubles as his home. As the story unfolds through a series of unexpected events  Alex is seemingly pulled from his little Magic shop in Camden, Only to find himself thrust back into the age-old war between Dark and Light Mages. The story highlights the struggles of Alex having to navigate through shark-infested waters of political and physically violent power struggles between Dark and Light Mages. in order to protect himself, as well as his part timer and friend Luna. As the story unfolds it reveals that Alex is more than familiar with certain circles of magical society particularly those that revolve around dark mages. It comes to pass that Alex has a dark past, however that isn’t fully explained in the first novel, however it’s very clear that he has been running and still is.

Luna, Alex’s sort of apprentice, Starbreeze, a ditzy air elemental, and many mages both Light, Dark, and scary  make this book a plethora of colourful characters that enthrals the reader and keeps them entertained throughout from their little character quirks, to earth shatteringly bad decisions. Luna is an interesting secondary character. I felt for her situation, in that due to circumstances she is unable to become close to anyone. I have a notion that her relationship with Alex will continue to be pivotal in this series

Throughout Reading this particular book, it made me reflect on something which I found quite amusing. As a child I would imagine the Harry Potter world to be my ideal fantasy life. A hidden world of magic and mystery where for the most part everyone is kept safe and is moderately unaffected by magic, and when evil rears its ugly head some pure hearted soul quashes them with minimal losses. However, now that I’m a little older and I would hope to think wiser, the Alex Verus universe is what I think a real fantasy world would be like. It wouldn’t just be good people that always win. There would be no pure of heart goody-two-shoes who fixes everything. There would be real people making real, often catastrophic, mistakes. The Alex Verus universe accurately depicts the underlying dark element of our world that would and should still exist in an urban fantasy setting.

So in short conclusion If you’re looking for a smouldering romance, then this isn’t the book for you. If you are looking for a fun, adventurous, magical mystery, then look no further! I highly enjoyed this adventure and I believe it to be a good opener for a new series, and is full to the brim with great potential: I dug into the sequel Cursed immediately

Until next time.. read more books!

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