Fated: a Book Review

Alex Verus Book 1
By Benedict Jacka

The first book in an exciting new urban fantasy series, this is a fast-paced tale that packs a punch and brings magic to London the way Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files bring magic to Chicago.

Alex Verus is a diviner with a dark past. For many years he has hidden himself away in self-imposed exile. In Camden, North London – where roads and rail lines and leylines tangle together – he runs a small magic shop, the Arcana Emporium. His magic isn’t as powerful or as flashy as other mages, but if you know what you are looking for, he can help you find it. And his ability to see the future gives him a distinct advantage when treading the perilous waters between the Light and the Dark and staying one step ahead of trouble. And it’s that ability that has suddenly made him very popular.

A mysterious artefact from the Dark Wars has been discovered intact and only a diviner can possibly work out how to traverse its wards to access the relic within. Multiple factions want possession of its secrets and Alex is their key to getting in. But Alex has spent a long time distancing himself from the shadows of his past – and the men and women who abandoned him to a cruel master – and he has no plans to be forced to do anything. Especially when he can predict that the odds of him surviving the job are slim to none.

Jacka’s work is fresh and exciting and has good bones to build on for any subsequent novels that might come along (I believe he’s contracted for at least two more). It has depth, inventive use of mythology, good characterisation, cool magical creatures and interesting curses. It’s dark and humorous, has a lot of heart and a fast pace.

I think this is going to be very popular with readers who enjoy the Dresden Files and I hope that Jacka has plans for many more instalments. While Alex Verus is a much different character to Harry Dresden, there are enough similarities and nods of the head to Butcher’s work that you can’t help but feel you are walking on familiar territory. In fact Butcher even has a quote on the jacket, and he thinks that Harry and Alex would get along very well. I agree.

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