Review: The Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin

I am always searching for a new urban fantasy series.  When I saw that The Grendel Affair had an endorsement from Ilona Andrews I knew it would be one that I would want to read.  That is a pretty hefty endorsement and I was really hoping it would live up to that hype.

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.

The Grendel Affair Lisa Shearin SPI FilesMakenna Fraser is our heroine and the voice of the story.  She wanted to be a famous journalist but ended up being a tabloid reporting which drew her the notice of SPI.  When everyone else was reporting on fake monsters she was actually getting the right and the boss lady for SPI offered her a job.  She is a Seer, a very rare person who can see through the veil,disguise, shield, or spell any monster will try to put on.  She is one of only a handful in the world and since the last New York Seer recently met and untimely death she is the star of the show.

She has a partner, Ian Byrne, and he is the one supposed to have her back.  He served five years with the NYPD and seven years in the military before signing on with SPI.  He has a very secretive past and we don’t know much about him other than he is very good at what he does which is a good thing because Seers are generally known to be combat proficient.

The story opens up with Mac out on her own.  She has agreed to remove a semi-harmless monster, a nachtgnome, from a friend’s shop but things go very wrong.  Luckily on the way there she learns that Ian was following her so she doesn’t have to handle the disaster alone.  Instead of finding the harmless monster she expected, they are confronted with a very large and intelligent being capable of ripping a man into small pieces with very little effort.  Mac and Ian are safe but the dead man they find has a picture of Mac in his pocket so they know something is going on, just not what.  The shop is owned by a friend of Mac’s and this friend would never set her up to die.

Because this was the second murder like this in as many days and the people killed were SPI agents, the case now becomes the number one interest for SPI.  Ian and Mac are called in by the boss lady, a dragon, to sit down and figure out what is going on.  It isn’t long before they learn that Mac has a doppleganger and someone has infiltrated SPI.  Not only have they infiltrated SPI but they have brought a pair of horrific monsters to New York to be unleashed on Times Square at midnight, New Year’s Eve.

The monsters are the legendary grendels from Beowulf.  They are intelligent, cunning, love to eat humans and are out for revenge for a lifetime of perceived slights.  SPI agents must find the person behind bringing the monsters to the US and find the location of the grendels before time runs out.  If things weren’t complicated enough, the grendels are in possession of a cloaking device that keeps them hidden from everyone except for Mac.  She is the only person who can see them which will out her front and center in all of the fighting.

I tried as best I could to sum up the plot in a couple of paragraphs but there is a lot going on in this first SPI novel.  We  have world building and character introduction to go through plus there has to be some sort of story arc set up.  The world building is fascinating and we learn about the different types of bad and good guys and what they can do.  Everything is very clean and flows perfectly with the story.  There isn’t a giant info dump which you can sometimes find in the first book of an UF series.

One of the strongest parts of this book is the humor.  It is deadpan and had me laughing out loud at strange times during the story.  Just when a part would get tense or suspenseful one of the main characters would throw out a one liner or a completely inappropriate joke and I would lose it.  For example take these two exchanges between Ian, the veteran agent, and Mac, our novice Seer.

“You’ve done this before?”

“Many times.”

“And it goes as planned.”

“Without fail.”

“I’ve never been involved before.”

“I’m very much aware of that.  I’m trying to think positive.”

and

“Property of the U.S. Government.”

A second and third crate said the same thing.

“At least none of these crates are big enough to hold the Ark of the Covenant,” I said.

“Good, because I didn’t bring my fedora and bullwhip,” Ian said, smoothing the tape back into place.

This is an UF series so while there is potential for a romance not much happens with it.  Even though I am mainly a romance reader, a good UF book can have such an amazing story to it that I don’t need the romance and The Grendel Affair is one such book.  I am interested to see where Ms. Shearin will take the possible romance but for now I was thrilled with the world and the arc so I was not, in the least bit, bothered by the lack of romance.  The story is marketed as urban fantasy so urban fantasy readers should be familiar enough with this type of story and have no issue with it.  Think Kate Daniels romance pace, possibly.

Overall, I am pretty excited about this new series.  The Grendel Affair had a fast pace and a story that kept me riveted until the final page.  I cannot wait to find out what is next for this series.  Final grade- A-

Favorite Quote:

We were on our way to Brooklyn to pick up an arm and see a man about a head.


Rating: A-
The Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin
December 31st 2013 by Ace
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Comments

  1. says

    Really looking forward to this one. I enjoyed the first few in Shearin’s fantasy series, and (like you) the Andrews blurb has me very excited about this one.

  2. says

    I’m hoping for a few new-to-me UF’s this year. I think I’ll put this one and the Colbana Files on my must read for 2014 list.

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