Review copy was received from NetGalley, Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Dead Man's Hand by James J Butcher
Narrator: James Patrick Cronin
Series: The Unorthodox Chronicles #1
Published by Ace, Penguin Audio on October 11, 2022
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Length: 11 hours, 10 minutes
Format: Audiobook, eARC
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Amazon, Audible, Libro.fm, Barnes & Noble, Apple
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.
I was curious to learn about this debut novel in The Unorthodox Chronicles series from Jim Butcher’s son, James. I found it a worthwhile read, although like any new world I had to assimilate the parameters. I was initially uncertain who the main character would be, but it is clear in the blurb.
Grimsby is very young and has a struggling past. He’s not stupid or completely unskilled but his self-confidence is lacking. He’s been rejected or put down enough it isn’t surprising. He works at a place similar to Chucky Cheese doing a little magic for kid’s parties, and also handling janitorial tasks. The writing is third person but we do get a lot of Grimsby’s thoughts and not the others.
The main story is a murder mystery, where the victim is a witch and Grimsby is a suspect. The witch’s old partner Mayflower gets to Grimsby before the “Auditors” and then realizes he is not the killer and works with him to find the killer as well as the magic object she was protecting.
It’s a dangerous and active adventure. Some of the Auditors are corrupt for power so it’s even more harrowing. Grimsby goes through a lot of character growth, prodded by Mayflower, as they try to solve the issues, protect the magical object and stay alive.
I would say I didn’t like the type of humor in the story. I felt it was sort of making fun of Grimsby and it didn’t seem funny. Sure, Grimsby didn’t know a lot but he hadn’t had much support in his life or training.
I did really like the Mayflower, the Huntsman, and his working with Grimsby. I’m excited to see what comes next as Grimsby, like all urban fantasy main characters, has started to form his band of allies, with Mayflower and Wudge. He also has a bit more experience and confidence.
I don’t believe I’ve listened to this narrator previously. I enjoyed the different voices for the different characters which really enhanced the performance for me. The tone and emotional timbre added to it also. I listened at my usual 1.5x speed.
Listen to a clip: HERE
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