I honestly was not sure how Dead Man’s Hand by James J. Butcher would shake out. I have never read his father Jim Butcher’s urban fantasies, so at least I had no biases one way or another. In a sentence, this debut novel was a really strong start to an intriguing urban fantasy series. Continue reading to get my thoughts on this debut!
On the streets of Boston, the world is divided into the ordinary Usuals, and the paranormal Unorthodox. And in the Department of Unorthodox Affairs, the Auditors are the magical elite, government-sanctioned witches with spells at their command and all the power and prestige that comes with it. Grimshaw Griswald Grimsby is…not one of those witches.
After flunking out of the Auditor training program and being dismissed as “not Department material,” Grimsby tried to resign himself to life as a mediocre witch. But he can’t help hoping he’ll somehow, someway, get another chance to prove his skill. That opportunity comes with a price when his former mentor, aka the most dangerous witch alive, is murdered down the street from where he works, and Grimsby is the Auditors’ number one suspect.
Proving his innocence will require more than a little legwork, and after forming a strange alliance with the retired legend known as the Huntsman and a mysterious being from Elsewhere, Grimsby is abruptly thrown into a life of adventure, whether he wants it or not. Now all he has to do is find the real killer, avoid the Auditors on his trail, and most importantly, stay alive.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
From the beginning, the world of Dead Man’s Hand was intriguing with lots of room to grow. The concept of the Elsewhere and exactly how magic worked seemed to be a mystery to me. Since this is the first book, I can excuse many aspects of how magic functions. I am eager to see how it develops more in the following installments.
While typically I am most interested in world-building, I found the characters to be the real gems in Dead Man’s Hand. The gruff bounty hunter Mayflower and the down-on-his-luck witch and food chain mascot Grimsby create a perfect duo. Not to mention the strange… thing (?) Wudge. Honestly, I don’t know what Wudge was, but it was my favorite character. Just like the world, there is a lot of room for growth for these characters in different ways.
I enjoyed this first book and am enthusiastically looking forward to the sequel and the growth of this series. There is so much potential to build upon this foundation. If you are a fan of urban fantasy and a bit of humor, I strongly recommend giving Dead Man’s Hand a read!
Find Dead Man’s Hand on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop.org & The Book Depository