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Publisher's Summary

Breaking curses. Battling witchcraft. Revenge. All in a day's work for Ozzy Turner, folk wizard.

Is a witch throwing curses your way? Something scary scratching at your window in the night? Then, I've got just the charm for you.

Mostly, though, I find things. Lost treasures, missing loved ones...if you need something found, I'm your guy.

So, when a grieving father hired me to track down a family heirloom stolen by a sticky-fingered hobgoblin, I was happy to help.

No one was supposed to wind up dead. Especially not me. But they made a mistake when they put a bullet in my stomach and left me for the worms. They didn't bury me deep enough....

If you like Jim Butcher, Kevin Hearne, Shayne Silvers, M.D. Massey, or Orlando A. Sanchez, then you'll love taking a trip to the sleepy town of Lost Falls, where not everything is as it seems.

©2017 Chris Underwood (P)2019 Chris Underwood

What listeners say about Cunning Devil

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good, but little sad.

Well written, good language, decent narration. After reading other books in this genre it was more suspenseful mystery than fantasy book. It was little sad, dark and heavy. The narrator added to the glum atmosphere,even though he did the good job made the book sound even more depressing. I wouldn't mind little more light both in the voice and in the story.

5 people found this helpful

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Supernatural meets Ghostbusters...

“Cunning Devil” is the premiere work of author Chris Underwood. It is the first book in what appears to be a trilogy based in the “Lost Falls” area. You quickly realize this storyteller has quite the imagination filled with fantasy, magic, along with a bit of dark urban mixed in. He is able to weave the many aspects of a great story into a concise and well-developed contemporary fantasy tale. The book is expertly narrated by Gary Bennett who is additionally the narrator of the wonderful “Dragon Mage” series by Scott Baron. If you have not listened to this series of audiobooks, you are missing out on some fun. If you are a person who likes a bit of traditional fantasy wrapped around an urban setting, you are in for a treat listening to this audiobook. Those familiar with the TV series “Supernatural” or “Charmed” will settle in quickly and enjoy this story. Mix in a little bit of “Ghostbusters” humor and you have a good idea of what to expect while listening. If this seems like your type of story including suspense, mystery, and a bit of a darker feel, you will find this audiobook worth an Audible credit.

Not sure why all the towns in stories like these are ones I would not want to live in. However, our main character, Ozzy Turner, lives in Lost Falls which appears to be the central location of much paranormal activity along with a few magical doorways allowing fantasy creatures in. The cunning man, or devil, is someone from British lore who is known to be a professional or semi-professional practitioner of magic. In this story, you will be introduced to spells, wards, curses and charms with elements of a fantasy flair. The author does a great job of blending the fantasy and paranormal together into a cohesive and well told story. What I liked was finding myself often surprised to have a hobgoblin or goblin come into the scene when I would have expected a vampire or werewolf. The use of non-standard tropes and magic system kept me engrossed and listening.

The magic system felt new and different from other books I have listened too. More like the magic one would find in the likes of “Supernatural” or “Charmed”. However, like with most magic, there is often one or more consequences to its use. Attempt to use magic for good on one person and you may find another receiving bad unexpectedly. Magic as well in this audiobook is like a stock commodity which can be traded for nearly anything but standard currency. This includes doing a specific deed, taking the life of another, or giving up your own life for another, etc.

Although the characters had complexity, I would have enjoyed an even deeper understanding of them. They were not flat, but I felt I could have understood them much better if given the opportunity. In a few scenes we are shown some of the desires and longings of the main character, but I would have liked to have had more. This longing did carry through the audiobook reminding the listener of its importance. I cared, but I wanted to care more. I will say that the author did a good job of showing the great sacrifices one has to give ensuring their family and friends are kept safe. This band of paranormal adventurers also requires the skills and strengths of one another to accomplish their common goal. On top of this, the author immerses you in descriptive life-like worlds and situations that do not take much effort to enjoy. We are even given a few places where the characters let down their guard and we see a bit of who they really are.

It may sound like a rather dark and dreary tale, yet the author is able to sprinkle in humor, sarcasm, and abundant amounts of banter between the characters making the listener laugh at times. There are even times we see the use of puns making fun of the horror and paranormal genres. A few times I had to laugh out loud when the characters would be afraid to go down into the dark basement or knowing what might be lurking behind a given door. I found it funny that the main character as well saw himself as a paranormal exterminator in the likes of the famous Ghostbusters movie; not the new one but the older one. The main character would use his powers for profit when someone found their home being invaded by some mystical or magical being. I can say that I now know where my missing socks from the laundry go. Even with the amount of humor, there was a good amount of suspense and mystery keeping the listener guessing. There was also an element of tension due to a specific timeframe in which the problem needed to be solved in or there would be dire consequences.

As I have recently completed the Dragon Mage series, I’m always open to listening to other audiobooks by a narrator I enjoy. Mr. Bennett has the type of voice which draws you into the story and is able to bring the written work to life via his calm and clear speech. I can often tell when a narrator understands the material as the reading is smooth, comfortable and expressive. The narrator was able to get this across as he read the story and the pace was just how I like it. The multiple characters were easy to distinguish, and each felt they had their own unique personalities. Apart from a few noticeable edits in the audio, the narration was professional.

For parents and younger readers, this audiobook does contain a fair amount of vulgar language. The author as well includes some crude and mature humor that may not be appropriate for younger listeners. If you are easily offended by such material, I would suggest you not listen to this audiobook.

In summary, the book has both a serious portion along with parts which reminded me of the Scooby Doo television series. It was fun and light-hearted, yet the blending of both fantasy and paranormal felt cohesive and believable. The additional mysterious man added an unexpected twist and tension. The storytelling and narration make this one worth the listen. If you are searching for a new series, this is a place to start. Note, the other two in the series are not yet available on Audible.

Disclaimer: This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, and/or publisher in exchange for an honest review.

5 people found this helpful

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Really enjoyed it.

Started out different and kept me interested. I had started a few that might have been good by other ppl but the narrator killed it. This guy was good. I enjoyed it. Going to buy the next one now.

3 people found this helpful

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No energy at all.

Holy shit. This was wretched. The narrator sounds like he overdosed on opium, and in the least entertaining way. This very soft monotomous drone that just goes on and on. No idea if the story is any good, though from the small bit that registered, its bland toast.

1 person found this helpful

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Get Lost in Lost Falls

Underwood shines in his first Lost Falls chronicle, his evident skill as a mystery writer coming to the fore as he weaves a tapestry rife with colorful characters and impossibly tangled threads. Far from just another supernatural tale, Cunning Devil is a triumphant proclamation written in iron and blood: Ozzy Turner is here to stay.

Underwood has found a gem of a narrator in Gary Bennett, whose somber tones deliver the cunning man’s thoughts with grave precision. Each new twist will have you feeling every which way as you, along with Ozzy, set yourself on a harrowing journey to discover just what’s going on in Lost Falls—and how to combat the slew of otherworldly forces that have conspired to spell destruction for a cunning man, his town, and what lies beyond...

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great start to a promising series!

Every once in a while I am lucky enough to stumble upon a book that really impresses me. This was one of those books. I decided to give this book a try simply because it sounded like it had some promise and I am always on the lookout for new urban fantasy series to try. Once I started listening, I quickly realized that this was going to be a book that I wouldn't want to put down. I really enjoyed every moment that I spent with this book.

I loved this story's setup. Ozzy is a cunning man who is also very resourceful. He tries to help others when he can. He decided to help a man find a family heirloom even though the job isn't going to pay well. And that's when things really start to go wrong. Ozzy will risk losing everything to get to the bottom of this case before long.

I loved the characters in this book. I found myself liking Ozzy right from the start. I loved getting a chance to see what he thought and see how his mind works. Besides Ozzy, there were plenty of other great characters. Ozzy's mentor, Early, kept me guessing and the Dealer was intriguing yet creepy. I loved the variety of beings that show up in this book include hags, goblins, hobgoblins, and changelings just to start.

The story had plenty of action and moved at a pretty fast pace. I was completely drawn into the mystery and couldn't wait to see how things would work out. The book took a lot of turns that I didn't expect and I loved the fact that it kept me guessing.

Gary Bennett did a fabulous job with the narration. I really felt like he brought this story to life. He used a variety of voices for all of the different characters and made everything sound very natural. He had a very pleasant voice that I found easy to listen to for hours at a time. I think that his performance added to my enjoyment of the story.

I would highly recommend this book to others. I thought that this was a great start to a very promising series. The characters, the mystery, and the world-building were all very well done. I cannot wait to read more of this series!

I received a review copy of this audiobook from the author via Audiobook Boom and have voluntarily left this review.

1 person found this helpful

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A compassionate man dealing with gritty truths

So, this one is both delightful and yet quite dark ... I especially enjoyed the compassionate nature of the MC -- a "cunning man" which is a man who can wield magic to a minor degree, mostly potions and charms, wards and seeings, and is scrupulous in avoiding dark magic workings. The MC makes constant efforts to avoid causing unnecessary suffering to "sentient creatures" he needs to control ... even sentient creatures running amok and causing harm to others.... he seeks to detain and control, rather than kill. It's so refreshing to find this compassionate attitude in a story filled with monsters, goblins, revenants and other wierdlings.

As for the gritty level of the writing, this particular book is darker than I expected, I'd compare it to the gritty level of Patricia Brigg's Alpha and Omega or Mercy werewolves novels. There are some descriptions of physical harm that are very clinically detailed. I'm unsure if the reason for the level of darkness in this book will be equalled in the rest of the series, or if it will be limited to this book, perhaps because dark witchcraft is very prevalent as a problem to overcome in this book. I'm very tempted to try the next book in the hope I'll get more of the kind-spirited MC being able to deal with nasty issues without discovering quite as much viscera strewn about.

The grit is balanced by the way the MC and his friends are written. The MC is really rather charming in his appreciation of other non-human species and his efforts to just add a little comfort to the lives of others thru his ability to find things they've lost. The elderly cunning man who is the MC's friend is also very easy to like and appreciate. And there are several cranky old women who add some fine sass to the mix. In all, I'd like to see the inhabitants of this town again, and so I believe I'm on to book 2.


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Good Story

Kept my interest. Kept me guessing. Too many GD's and F-words. Distracting from the story.

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Kind of a miserable slog

The story itself is ok, kind of boilerplate urban fantasy. The main drag on the book is the performance. I don’t know if the reader was directed to be so deadpan or if that was his own choice but it pretty much drained the life out of the book for me.

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Looking out for the little guy.

I enjoyed the story line and the different way Chris portrays witches and ghouls. I really liked the Narration of the book by Gary Bennett. Ozzy the MC is a good guy who has had his fare share of bad luck. He reminds me of Harry Dresdon without the offence capabilities. There are a lot of side character to keep the story interesting. Its a good Listen and worth your time. This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.

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  • Sara B
  • 12-27-19

Very entertaining!

Cunning Devil, the first book in the Lost Falls series, is a cleverly composed urban fantasy. The storyline is well-written, fascinating, suspenseful, and action-packed, loaded with twists and turns. Chris Underwood is an excellent storyteller with an incredible imagination. He has done a brilliant job with the world-building, an essential element in the paranormal genre. Ozzy Turner, the main character, is compelling, canny, and engaging; I liked how his mind works.

Gary Bennett is a talented narrator, well-paced, and precise. His inflexions entirely suited the situations and characters — especially Ozzy, he sounded exactly how imagined him.

I was given a free copy of this audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Missgotty
  • 02-06-21

This is what happens when you trade with a Dealer

A slow start but it soon picked up pace. Not my usual book selection but I liked it, thought it was very entertaining and a good read. I suppose one thing that sometimes puts me off books in this genre is that the subject matter, vampires, goblins etc can be written for a certain age group. But this was well written, well thought out and with a lot of knowledge as Chris immerses you into his fantasy world. I liked that the focus of the book wasn't just about casting spells and charms, but that it was also submerged in mystery with a feeling that the storyline could lead in any direction at any time as the story unfolds. It also didn't include typical characters like in some books of this genre which always include vampire and werewolf main leads. The narrator did a good job overall, sometimes I wondered how he managed the high pitched hobgoblins voice, while reverting back to the very calm 'Ozzy' voice, with the 'Dealers' voice being very creepy. Considering what 'Ozzy' goes through within the story I thought his voice was a little too calm and laid back for my liking. I was given a copy of this book for free of my own choosing and have voluntarily left this review.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 07-18-20

Different in a good way

Great plot well planned with many twists and turns cannot wait for book 2. The people are believable and the action fast and brutal keep it up

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  • Kaz Whymark
  • 05-10-20

WOW 😮 KAZ Bedford 😊 LOVED THIS ❤️🥰

This has got to be one ☝🏽 of the best books 📖 i’ve heard since The Dresden Files it’s full of magic and magical creatures from goblins to vampires 🧛🏽‍♂️ & so much more I literately couldn’t stop listening 🙉 from start to finish it’s absolutely brilliant Wonderful lead characters and fantastic story line i’m giving this 10 outta 10 Can’t wait for the next book 📖 huge Thank You 😊 to this great new author LOVED ❤️🥰😍🥳😊 IT!! KAZ 🥰💙🖤💙😍😊

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  • Kate @MLHearingThings
  • 01-02-20

Secrets lurk beneath the sleepy suburban facade...

One of the things I most enjoyed about this series was that rather than being a mage or magician, the protagonist, Osric 'Ozzy' Turner, was a cunning man. Ozzy's abilities are in large part thanks to his mentor, Early. (Early reminds me very much of Abraham Whistler from the Blade movies, crossed with Bobby Singer from Supernatural.)

It can be tricky to settle into a new series, but I liked Underwood's world-building as he led us around Lost Falls, and introduced us to the creatures with which it was populated.

Considering this book compares itself to The Dresden Files in the blurb, I was expecting more of the humour that is common to most of the slick urban fantasy books. There's a quieter and less brash feel to Ozzy than his peers in the genre, and this book has a much better attitude to its female characters than the Dresden Files has ever achieved. In Cunning Devil, the women are mostly treated (gasp!) just like any other character.

Fortunately, though Ozzy was oblivious to most of the convenient plot points, the mystery had enough twists and turns to remain well paced despite the obviously side-stepped 'clues', and the ultimate reveal provided a satisfying conclusion.

I really liked this audiobook's ethical underpinning, and the way this felt like a very natural part of the 'cunning man' philosophy in a way that is unlike the traditional wizard of popular culture.

The narrator, Gary Bennett, was new to me but did well with this book. I felt he was a little too neutral at times, especially at the start. His style was very laid-back, and I am more accustomed to urban fantasy being a bit livelier. Bennett created good voices for the characters, but there wasn't a lot of differentiation between Ozzy and Early at times, especially at the start when they were both still unfamiliar.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who has enjoyed similar books in the genre, such as Shadow Magic by Nazri Noor, or Demon Moon by Brad Magnarella.

*I received this audiobook free of charge in the hope of an honest, unbiased review.

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  • C. Rowlands
  • 12-23-19

Strong start to this series

In many ways this book follows the template for your typical urban fantasy hero, but the tweaks that the author adds to Ozzy Turner help to provide him with a sufficiently distinctive character and personality that he does not seem derivative. Besides the main character, the author builds a compelling supernatural world centred around the town of Lost Falls, populated with an interesting supporting cast and a well-realised set of supernatural races.

While generally seeming to be a competent investigator, the main character does seem to have a number of glaring blindspots that the author makes ample use of when the plot needs to be progressed a bit further, but while this is perhaps a little too convenient, the story still works well overall.

The narrator's overall performance was a good one that nicely enhanced the story, with his tone for the main character seeming to be a particularly good fit.

Overall, an interesting listen and some good world-building for any subsequent books in this series.

[Note - I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.]

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  • ChaosKay (Audiobook Obsession Reviewer)
  • 12-10-19

Fab start to the series.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

Really enjoyed listening to this kept me entertained and I am looking forward to listening to more in the series.
Gary Bennett’s narration was really good too.

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  • Andromeda's Twin
  • 12-05-19

Rather enjoyable

It did take me a while to get into this one, I did not immediately take to Ozzy (a cunning man - aka witch) who starts the book off by helping rid his sister of an unwanted house guest (it's more of a cellar dweller actually but you get the gist).

Ozzy removes the unwanted creature and takes it away, which is when things start getting stranger. Which brings me to the subject of 'Strangers' which is what all the wild beasties, ghosties and goblins are referred to collectively. They are The Strangers. Apparently from other planets but I admit, I may have that wrong, it could have been other dimensions. So, all your fae folk are here, goblins, ghouls, witches (not fae I know) hobgoblins and something called raggenwolf, which I admit, is rather puzzling, because all other field spirits (which the raggenwolf is one of) are missing, no mention of weizenvogel, roggenbär or, my favourite the troadhân), so I feel they may be included in future books, I just hope the traodhân will be making an appearance.

The story gets a bit interesting when the Dealer turns up at Ozzy's house, things all start to get a little clearer from here, it takes quite a while for Ozzy's story to emerge but most of it gets spat out eventually.

I particularly enjoyed the last third of the book, when events really picked up the pace and became most interesting with a rather 'cunning' twist at the end, most inventive Mr Underwood, I really enjoyed that one.

I did enjoy the narration from Gary Bennett but am not sure he's the best voice for Ozzy who is described as a large burly man who looks more like a biker than a 'cunning man' (I hate that phrase, it makes Ozzy sound like a weazly snitch) so I thought his voice might sound a little more burly too but either way, the narration is pleasant to listen to.

I recommend giving this one a try if you're a fan of sorcerers in society or mages in the machine or just fancy giving something different a listen, I think you'll probably be glad that you did.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request
and have voluntarily left this review.

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  • Avid Kindler
  • 12-04-19

Out of the ordinary urban fantasy

I read this book on Kindle a couple of years ago. I failed to rate or review it then, but I must have enjoyed it as I have bought and read all the subsequent Lost Falls books.

The main character, Ozzie, is a Cunning Man or white witch:

“We were the ones you came to when your crops failed or your prized cooking pan went missing. We were there to track down your son after he wandered into the woods alone. We broke curses and protected against witchcraft. We provided magical assistance for the common folk, all at a reasonable price. And though we weren’t always trusted, we were always in demand.”

Ozzie is an finely drawn character with a troubled past that slowly comes to light as the story progresses. He and his mentor, Early, see themselves as the protectors of their community of Lost Falls - both of the visible human and of the hidden non-human populations - and that role of protector often puts them in the line of fire, whether from gun, curse, or some sort of magical strike.

The non-human entities are many and varied: hags, hobgoblins, vampires, goblins, ghouls, changelings, a roggenwolf, to name a few, and it is interesting to see how none of these - even those where the most evil has arisen - is portrayed as wholly bad.

The audiobook version, which I have just finished, has a good reader in Gary Bennett. His voice suits the character of Ozzie extremely well, and is pleasant to listen to. Most of the other characters are easy to distinguish, and I particularly enjoyed the voice he gave to the Dealer.

This is a novel that pulls together a complex series of seemingly unrelated incidents and characters, blending them into a startling finale and a satisfying conclusion. It is a good start to a series that continues to improve and enthrall.

The main reason I have not given a five star rating is the plethora of f-bombs, which I find irritating - particularly when I am listening to a book. I have recently re-read the other books in this series and don’t recall an excess of swearing in those, so I think the author must have been more creative in his language as his skills developed.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 12-27-20

Enchanting

A nice collection of characters and mythical creatures produce a fine story. Looking forward to seeing how the characters develop as the story unfolds. Well worth getting.