Book Review: Fated by Benedict Jacka

On our trip to London, I tried to find books by British authors, novels that I wouldn’t normally see advertised in the states to “expand my horizons”. I discovered this gem in Hatchard’s and determined the issue with buying foreign authors… I fell in love with the book and can’t find a U.S. book store that carries the rest of the series!

12760503The Excerpt:

Alex Verus is part of a world hidden in plain sight, running a magic shop in London. And while Alex’s own powers aren’t as showy as some mages, he does have the advantage of foreseeing the possible future–allowing him to pull off operations that have a million-to-one-chance of success.

But when Alex is approached by multiple factions to crack open a relic from a long-ago mage war, he knows that whatever’s inside must be beyond powerful. And thanks to his abilities, Alex can predict that by taking the job, his odds of survival are about to go from slim to none…

My Thoughts?

As I mentioned above, I fell in love with this book from the first chapter. Jacka’s writing style is very similar to that of my favorite author, Jim Butcher. Part of what led me to buy the book originally was a quote from Butcher on the front cover of Fated, endorsing the book. I loved that Jacka gave a shout out to Butcher’s main character, Harry Dresden (not by name of course, but mentioning him as “one guy in Chicago who advertises in the phone book under ‘Wizard’), leading the reader to believe that both series exist within the same urban fantasy universe.

The main character, Alex, is an interesting young mage with a troubled past. Unlike many books that I’ve read recently, Alex doesn’t seem to fall into the typical mold of your likely protagonist. He’s talented, but not necessarily powerful, outclassed by many of the other mages in the area. And although an unlikely hero, he’s not necessarily unique in his talent to see into the future, though he is the only future seer in the area dense enough to have overlooked the danger lurking ahead. Alex was a fun character, far from perfect, but utterly likable.

Although the story is told from Alex’s first person point of view, supporting characters are much more than the typical one dimensional tropes you find in many modern fantasy novels. They have realistic reactions, emotional responses, and histories, though the history of the main female antagonist (a mysterious masked woman) was entirely predictable. I have to say I was not a fan of many of the name choices (Cinder, Luna, Starbreeze…), which were just a bit too cheesy for my taste.

The scenery in the novel is wonderfully depicted as the story emerges, taking place in London near well-known landmarks. The history and spirit of the city lends to the magic of the plot, which is well-paced, keeping the pages turning.

Overall I’d give Fated five out of five stars and recommend it for any urban fantasy lovers out there!

 

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