Monday Minis

Today’s Monday Minis bring you supernatural crime, a real-life serial killer and a Spanish inspired magical murder-mystery. Very bloody week, I must say! I received eARCs of all of these via NetGalley, many thanks to the respective publishers. All opinions are my own.

Shadow Service by Cavan Scott and Corin Howell (Colourist Triona Farrell, Letterer Andworld) is a new ongoing comic series – the first bind up volume was released in April. It centres on wirch Gina Meyers, a private investigator in London, and her encounters with London’s supernatural criminal underworld and the policing agency referred to as MI666. There is some interesting stuff in here, though it is grittier than I expected going in. It’s more of a Grimdark story than a cute witchy urban fantasy. To be entirely honest, I wasn’t blown away by this first volume, but the ending left me intrigued enough to pick up the second one and give the series another chance. I feel that the characters haven’t really had too much of a chance to develop yet as it’s very action focused and I would prefer to get a bit more down time and get deep and personal with Gina and the peeps from MI666 – and yes, even with Gideon…

Triflers Need Not Apply by Camilla Bruce is an odd one. I’m not sure how much I actually liked the book, but I couldn’t put it down at all. This is the story of Belle Gunness, one of the few female serial killers in history. And to clear up any confusion, this same book was published earlier this year in the US as In The Garden of Spite – I was a bit confused myself there. While based on a historical tale, this is fiction. The story follows Belle/Bella from her childhood in Norway through to her supposedly faked death in a fire in middle age. It is an utterly compelling story, but also an uncomfortable one. Bella is an absolute sociopath and I kept waiting for someone to pick up on what she was doing and to actually do something about it – and it felt like people were so close so many times, but it just never happened. I hated her and pretty much every other character in the book so damn much and that makes writing about the book kind of hard. But if you’re into true crime and villains, do check this out!

Oculta by Maya Motayne is the second book in the Forgery of Magic Trilogy. Following up on 2019’s Nocturna, this continues the story of Alfie and Finn as they grapple with the consequences of what happened in the first book. Finn finds herself reluctantly leading a gang of thieves as she is thrust into the position of thief lord, while Alfie has to thread his way through court politics and diplomacy as the Englassen royals come to visit the Castellan court for peace negotiations. Together they are once again drawn into a huge conspiracy… I didn’t enjoy this sequel quite as much as I did the first book, I found it dragged at times and I struggled to keep myself focussed. There are parts that I loved – the introduction of tattoo magic was brilliant, but others that were a bit too on the nose for my taste – some new characters were introduced only to betray the main characters in ways that were rather predictable. It also felt like the twists the book took were either entirely forseeable or not foreshadowed at all. I prefer revelations that are unexpected but make sense in retrospect, and I felt like that wasn’t the case with this. I’ll probably still pick up the last book in the trilogy, even if Oculta suffered from middle-book-syndrome.

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