We’re Supernatural Protection & Investigations, known as SPI. Things that go bump in the night, the monsters you thought didn’t exist? We battle them and keep you safe. But some supernatural baddies are just too big to contain, even for us. When I moved to New York to become a world famous journalist, I never imagined that snagging a job at a seedy tabloid would change my career path from trashy reporter to undercover agent. I’m Makenna Fraser, a Seer for SPI. I can see through any disguise, shield, or spell that a paranormal pest can come up with. I track down creatures and my partner, Ian Byrne, takes them out.Our cases are generally pretty routine, but a sickle-wielding serial killer has been prowling the city’s subway tunnels. And the murderer’s not human. The fiend in question, a descendant of Grendel - yes, that Grendel - shares his ancestor’s hatred of parties, revelry, and drunkards. And with New Year’s Eve in Times Square only two days away, we need to bag him quickly. Because if we don’t find him - and the organization behind him - by midnight, our secret’s out and everyone’s time is up.
©2013 Lisa Shearin (P)2014 Audible Inc.
So, I Read This Book Today . . .
Being a rabid Ilona Andrews fan I preordered Night Shift the moment it hit preorder status. I adore anthologies, and with both Nalini Singh and Ilona Andrews as listed authors, I was so excited to receive it. There were two other authors in the anthology, Lisa Shearin and Milla Vane, neither of which I had read before.
And this is why authors are brilliant to be involved in Anthologies, especially when they can be involved in them with more well-known authors. I may never have heard of Lisa Shearin before, but after reading Lucky Charms I knew I had to read more of her work.
"It was four in the morning. I was in a stolen bakery delivery truck that’d been nearly totaled by three gargoyles. In the truck with me were two hung-over elves, a pair of stoned leprechauns with the munchies, a naked Russian werewolf, and a hot partner, who was actually more of a bodyguard, in a race against a goblin dark mage to retrieve a leprechaun prince with a tracking chip embedded in his left ass cheek. "
Six hours earlier:
“How the hell did you lose five horny leprechauns in a strip club?”
What is NOT to love?!?! I immediately went out and purchased The Grendel Affair on Audible. Hey, it is narrated by Johanna Parker. The main character, Makenna Fraser, is a good-ole’ Southern girl, and Johanna’s southern voice is perfect for the character. Having first listened to Johanna in the Sookie Stackhouse Series, I follow her on Audible and give serious consideration to any books she narrates, just as I do with any books that are narrated by Renée Raudman, Khristine Hvam, Will Patton or . . . well, I have a list of narrators that I follow!
Makenna Fraser features in The Grendel Affair as well. Lucky Charms, the story in Night Shift seems to be a prologue to the SPI Files series. The second in the series, The Dragon Conspiracy (SPI Files), comes out January 27th, and I will be waiting impatiently for the Audible edition! I love the mythology of the SPI Files. A hidden paramilitary police force policing the supernaturals, which of course the human population knows nothing of. Yes, that concept has been used before, but when well done, it is the underpinning of many a truly marvelous story. In New York, just before New Year’s Eve, Grendels have been released, and are picking off both supernats and humans – leading up to what their leader intends to be a Times Square slaughter, ripping the blinders off the human population in a gory paean to carnage and chaos. It is up to the SPI to stop the Grendels (yes, just like in Beowulf) before the world is turned into a mythological nightmare. (Really, people – do you truly not understand that humans have a wee bit of an arsenal built up? Like, enough to destroy the world several times over? Sort of hard to fight a Predator missile with a Predator’s claws . . . Ah, the dreams of glory of a psychopath with a God complex.)
Makenna is a great heroine, mostly for the fact that she really isn’t a ‘heroine’ at all. Rather, she is a newspaper reporter who found herself thrust into the SPI because she is a seer – she can see underneath the veils that supernats wear to make them appear human. And her particular skill-set may be the only thing that can save the world from the planned chaos and slaughter. She is no Mary Sue – she makes mistakes, grave ones, but fumbles along the best she can under extremely difficult situations, helping and being helped by her new colleagues. Terror, sadness and guilt all hound her, but there are truly funny moments as well.
Lisa Shearin has another series, starring Raine Benares, which begins with Magic Lost, Trouble Found: Raine Benares, Book 1. One of my Audible credits will be grabbing this one soon!
I purchased the books listing in this review. All thoughts are my own. If you enjoy my reviews, please “Like” them on Amazon.com and/or Audible.com. Thanks you!
Main Characters: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ Makenna Fraser is a likable character. She’s not perfect, she’s not superior, she’s just your average gal adjusting to a new job. She has funny quirks, only one special skill — the ability to see through glamours and veils — and is both afraid and brave. I love the fact that a smear of powdered sugar from eating too many cookies is what helps establish her credibility and that her contribution to the monster-fighting team is to shoot paintballs. The story is told first-person through Makenna, so the reader gets to know her very well throughout the book and is easily able to identify with her and invest in her success.
Other Characters: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ Ian Byrne, Makenna’s partner/bodyguard, is a professional agent, in contrast to Makenna, and does what he can to keep her safe. At first, I thought Ian was going to be an overly-protective male for the whole book, but that wasn’t the case. Ian is protective, having lost a partner in the past, but he recognizes that he can protect Makenna only so much and that she needs to be able to protect herself. Luckily, Ian has a sense of humor and is able to accept Makenna for who she is, quirks and all. I think the two make a good pair. I really enjoy the rest of the supporting cast as well: Ollie, the self-centered merchant of all things spooky; Yasha, the Russian werewolf driver; Kenji, the Japanese half-elf techie; Vivienne Sagadraco, British dragon and founder of SPI; and Rolf Haagen, the crazy Scandinavian with the prosthetic arm. Ms. Shearin certainly has embraced diversity in her characters as far as nationality AND species.
World: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ It seems all the monsters exist in Makenna’s world — dragons, elves, goblins, werewolves, vampires, ghouls, leprechauns, grendels, magicians, witches, dopplegangers, and more. One ancient dragon, Vivienne Sagadraco, has created SPI — Supernatural Protection and Investigations — to protect the humans and good supernaturals from the bad supernaturals and keep the magical world under wraps. SPI operates like a private FBI and police force, employing both humans and supernaturals toward the cause.
Story: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ In this first adventure, a pair of grendels are loose in NYC, ready to rampage through Times Square on New Year’s Eve in order to bring the supernaturals out of the closet and into the power some creatures believe they deserve. Makenna, Ian, Yasha, Rolf, and the others are tasked to bring down the grendels without revealing them to the world. Mayhem ensues. For the most part, I like the story. The time the group spends hunting the grendels in the tunnels under the city seems to drag on a bit; but, I really love the scenes in the cemetery and in the crypt under the cemetery.
During the story, Ms. Shearin references Makenna’s first day on the job guarding a bachelor party of leprechauns. This sounds like a hilarious story that can now be found in an anthology called Night Shift. Makenna spends a fair amount of time introducing herself to us in the beginning of the book, where she references her hometown of Weird Sisters, North Carolina — a town that attracts the weird and wonderful. With as much time as was spent on it, I was expecting to either find a short story about Weird Sisters, or to have it become important in The Grendel Affair; but neither is true as far as I can tell. I’d love to see a story or two about Weird Sisters; it sounds like there are generations worth of stories there to tell. The other story I would like to see is how Ian lost his first partner. We know it had something to do with “the ghoul” character that Makenna encounters both at the beginning and the end of the book, and we know it had a big impact on Ian. But we know only what Ian has told Makenna about the incident and we don’t know much about this “ghoul” character at all. I think there is plenty of fodder there for more interesting stories.
Narrator: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ Johanna Parker, who also narrates the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris, is the voice of Mackenna Fraser and company. Being a fan of Sookie in audio, this did a couple of things for me. First, it gave me instant affinity for the story since I liked Sookie and Johanna as her voice. Second, it made me picture Mackenna as Sookie for a while. I can separate them in my head now, but I don’t think associating the two characters was actually a bad thing. They are fairly similar; both gals are blonde, Southern, and fairly normal except for one small talent — the ability to sense something others can’t. Neither have any special abilities that make them physically or mentally superior, and they both have faults, make mistakes, and have adorable quirks. It was a smart choice to have Ms. Parker read the SPI novels as it will lead some listeners to associate Ms. Shearin’s world with Ms. Harris’, and who wouldn’t want to be associated with such a success?
Overall: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ The Grendel Affair is a fun adventure with likable characters and just the right amount of humor. I think I enjoyed listening to it more than I did reading it, particularly because I already have a “relationship” with Johanna Parker. The story is more than fluff, but not a super serious or gritty adventure — it’s a “popcorn flick” of a book that makes for an entertaining few hours.
Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today.
The book was a fun read. It had elements of all the things i have come to like from genre. But it was lacking and the characters were not well developed. Still a good read if you have a few hours to spare and picks up towards the end.
I think the premise of the book was probably fine. I can't rate it or the story appropriately because I did get through much of it.
No. My library only had the second one in the series and I wanted to read this one first. I will probably read the second anyway because the storyline has promise.
I don't know what state her accent was from but I just couldn't listen to it any further than I did.
Well written and well narrated. A very interesting plot. I enjoyed every moment of it. I do like Johanna Parker's performance. Her voices for both males and females were flawlessly done.
If you asked me to my face, I would tell you I'm not fond of urban fantasy.
On the other hand I am quite fond of an original story, great characters, fun, action, all the good things that go into a good story.
That's why I like Harry Dresden, Alex Verus, Bob Howard, and now Makenna Frazier-our heroine.
It's original, it's got it's share of fun, some twists, the action keeps moving, it's a great listen. It feels personal. And intimate.
Really good narrator. I really hope they get her again for book 2, which I hope will be out soon.
I liked it. Enough to get the next one as soon as it comes out.
You should give it a try, you'll like it.
It was a well designed story. Unlike the other contributors, I didn't find the heroine whiney, etc. I found her just fine and certainly practical considering she has no practical experience in monster hunting.
She is a great narrator, I've always enjoyed her storytelling.
This series is a great middle of the road story- it doesn't reach out and grab you and make you want to stay up till 4am so you can finish it- but it is compelling enough that I look forward to the next one in the series.
A reader of PNR, mysteries and suspense. But huge reader of PNR. I listen and read books.
The story line and the constant action, not a dull moment
Ian was an excellent character as was Sasha
This is a cookie cutter paranormal fantasy story. Average characters and an average story that sounds just like every other paranormal authors' series. Very disappointing.
I love it. Johanna's voice is incredible. The story is very good. It keeps you hooked all the way through.
"Interesting, but not my thing really."
"Not my usual thing," I thought, "but I have a couple of spare credits so I think I'll give it a fair go." So I listened to a type of story I never had before. I was not disappointed.
Production-wise, I thought the tale - very well written by Lisa and narrated by Johanna - flowed beautifully, dragging me along as it ought. The storyline proved interesting and thought-provoking and, at times, humorous.
Having listened all the way through, I have concluded that this kind of story is really not my personal bag. However, it was a refreshing change and I have no regrets in buying it. I am keeping it in my library to read again one day. All-in-all, if you like this genre, you'll enjoy this well-written and well-presented book.
Recommended. Buy it. Try it. Enjoy it.
"Poor and unoriginal"
I struggled with this book. The story was uninspiring and pedestrian. It seemed to have difficulty deciding whether to be a fantasy, a detective or a love story and so was none of the above. I won't be buying another. Personally, I found the narrator's accent incredibly irritating. Don't bother, there's far superior fantasy books out there
"The gothic version of Jasper Fforde"
If you like your humour off the wall like Jasper Fforde with a touch of gothic horror then you will probably like this. Lisa Sherin was such an enjoyable revealation I went & bought the next book in the series. I couldn't put the book down.
Yet again the world is full of ghouls, vamps and odd dragons that the world at large is unaware of with an elite organisation dedicated to keeping it that way.
The story stays true to the genre conventions and doesn't break much new ground but it is a good story that is well paced and the main characters are appealing and of interest. The narrator does a good job though the strong accent is a bit jarring at the beginning, you do eventually become adjusted to it.
The world created by the writer has a lot of room to expand in to and I am hoping to enjoy the next novel equally. This one was enjoyable and worth the listen.
"Action Packed Story"
I expect I will listen to it again - I am a re-Reader/Listener for stories I enjoy and I did enjoy this one
I enjoyed the developing world the story is set in with hidden monsters and secrets
The scene early in the book which involved catching the little monster in the shop - funny
Lisa Shearin is a new author to me but I will be looking at the rest of this series and any other writings.
"Good story, complicated lead, shocking narration"
I was wondering most of the book if the author was undecided about how she wanted her female lead to be. One minute she is positive Hercule Poirot (even I do not get how she comes to some conclusions), next she is completely clueless. One minute she brags about her gun readiness and past use, next she is afraid to shoot. The story is good, but she really needs a bit of help there as it sounds as if the author is trying to make her human by character flaws we all have, but being unwilling to do so. Perhaps one consistent failing in one thing while talent in another as is usually the way would be the right way? Also, I yet to meet Scandinavians in such group where all are blond! They do not come in such extreme blondiness- there are more of them than anywhere else on average, yes, but blue eyes and different hair colour, if Scandinavian ancestry, is how it is. I would say the author just followed old believed "truths" which are not very correct. There are small details such as the Norwegian (?) agent being all bloodthirsty and talking about celebration by drinking once he kills in such a way, even Die Hard movie Russian badíe would not manage. You expect him to possitively pull out vodka any second and go drunk into action. Scandinavians are very friendly and peacefull people.
The foreign accents are so bad it stopped being funny pretty quick. Poor Norwegians have bad Russian accent (like from cheap American movies)- all Scandinavian languages are Germanic, not Slavic, the difference when they speak English is HUGE! Their English on average is great and their accent slight and very different. Brits would be amazed by narrator's take on theirs too, I am afraid.
It is overall good story and book and I will buy the next one in series. Just hoping the narrator either takes some time for research next time around if needed for the story line or that the publishers pick somebody with better ability for this type of book.
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