Review: The Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin

17912981The Grendel Affair (SPI, #1) By Lisa Shearin
Urban Fantasy
Paperback, 292 pages
January 7, 2013

Reviewed by Tori

Favorite Quote: “In case of emergency, lift shirt, pull .44”

Meet Makenna Fraser. Recently arrived in NYC and looking to spread her wings, she is instead recruited by the SPI (Supernatural and Protection Investigation). Makenna is a seer, a rarity in the paranormal world that leaves her feeling rather cosseted by the agency. Kept on the side lines with no defense training, she even gets a pseudo babysitter in the way of her partner, agent Ian Byrne. With her ability to “see” the supernatural for what they are; no glamour, spells, or disguises can hide from her all seeing eyes, she finds the guilty and Ian arrests them. Being a bit of a klutz, Ian also has to save Makenna often as she literally falls her way through life.

 When a series of vicious murders is brought to the SPI’s attention, Ian and Makenna find themselves chasing not one but two supernatural killers whose contempt for humanity and loud drunken parties has them fearing the worse as New Year’s Eve is only a few days away. Grendels have been let loose on the city of New York and only some quick thinking on Ian’s part and Makenna’s ability to see the unseen can save the city from a massacre on epic proportions.

The Grendel Affair is the beginning of a new urban Fantasy series by Lisa Shearin. An interesting mixture of legend, mythology, and a secret agency blend together to produce a unique story that is at times engaging and fun. Well defined characters, both of the human and paranormal variety, gives depth and plenty of maneuvering for continuing world building and arc development. The beginning starts out slow as Shearin sets up the storyline and arc; explaining character backgrounds and offering us information in the logistics of the SPI and the role they play in the world. Once it all settles, the action picks up dramatically and the story takes off.

Makenna is an interesting heroine for urban fantasy. No real warrior type skills but an alarming amount of ingenuity. She knows just enough to hurt herself. She has moxie and I give her points for that. I felt her development was slow to reveal. She is the quintessential female who’s tiny, cute, sweet, just enough of a mess to invoke an alpha’s protective instincts, and cranks out more one liners then a Vegas act. She tries super hard but inevitably needs rescuing or manages to rescue herself through a series of mishaps that stop just short of killing her. While I found her humorous in the beginning, she began to grate on my nerves as the story went on. She never felt more than one dimensional to me.

Ian was more layered and engaging to me. An ex solider, recruited by the SPI for his defense skills, he just screams of skeletons in the closet. He, correctly, judges Makenna as someone he will have to save more often than not. His characterization develops gradually, becoming more open and comfortable with Makenna as he gets to know her. I liked that he wasn’t impenetrable and could be hurt by the factions he came up against. There is no romance between Makenna and Ian though you get the feeling one may develop later down the road in the series.

Interesting secondary characters round out the storyline with a dragon for a boss, a Russian agent with a penchant for funny t shirts, a geek who can infiltrate any system anywhere, and a vampire lawyer who tries to keep them all on the outside of a jail cell. Multiple sub plots keeps the story running at a steady pace as the group behind the Grendel’s resurrection is revealed.

Shearin’s newest release is a fun fast urban fantasy with a unique premise and engaging characters. While I wasn’t blown away by this one; my issues being with the  main character, I did enjoy the mystery and the world. I do feel that if the heroine can settle and find her niche, the series for me will become more enjoyable.


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  1. says

    The other reviews I’ve read for this one have been mixed too, so it’s quite interesting to see you felt a similar way about the main character being not very 3D.

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