Dragons, Zombies and Aliens:
Finn Gramaraye was framed for the crime of dark necromancy at the age of 15, and exiled to the Other Realm for twenty five years. But now that he's free, someone―probably the same someone―is trying to get him sent back. Finn has only a few days to discover who is so desperate to keep him out of the mortal world, and find evidence to prove it to the Arcane Enforcers. They are going to be very hard to convince, since he's already been convicted of trying to kill someone with dark magic.
But Finn has his family: his brother Mort who is running the family necrotorium business now, his brother Pete who believes he's a werewolf, though he is not, and his sister Samantha who is, unfortunately, allergic to magic. And he's got Zeke, a fellow exile and former enforcer, who doesn't really believe in Finn's innocence but is willing to follow along in hopes of getting his old job back.
,Ah, ye olde "Framed-And-Must-Prove-Innocence-Before-Bad-Things-Happen" storyline. With necromancy! And humor!
This book was seriously funny. Finn is a such a smart-ass. Although half of his references went over my head (all of his jokes are prior to 1985, and I'm a shallow millennial), I still greatly enjoyed it. And even better, he's in the center of an incredible world of magic and a heart-pounding mystery. The only thing I could think of while reading this was It's like Rick Riordan for adults! That, and Gosh, I really hope nobody calls the cops while I'm lurking in my car, because I was sitting in my car on a dark street after work frantically finishing the last two chapters of the book. I didn't want to wait the thirty minutes it would take to drive home.
There were very few "well, duh" moments in this story. I've read and seen so many mysteries that I can usually tell within the first quarter who the bad guy is, in addition to all the usual cliches and tropes. Randy Henderson did fall into a couple (such as "it's not the first suspect," like a Law & Order episode, and the "traitorous dame" trope), but while a couple of characters were predictable, everything else was not. Like why Finn was framed in the first place. Or how Dungeons & Dragons will play a crucial role in the good guys' plan. That cemented my love for this character; D&D FTW!
Overall, I give it a 7.5 out of 10. It lost a few points with (surprise!) it's treatment of women characters. The love triangle between Finn and two past flames toes the line between funny and annoying a little too closely--because, really? These two adult, intelligent women have nothing better to do than bitch at each other over the guy they like? And then there was the scene where literally every single female in Finn's group is taken hostage at once. It's a plethora of Damsels in Distress.
However, the women were well-rounded characters and were used for more than just ornamentation, which is why I didn't scrap the book entirely. That, and most of the focus of Finn's relationships are that of his family, particularly his brothers. Mort is a bitch and Pete is a sweetie with a BAMF streak. Glorious.
It's got two sequels, both already out. Which is good, because remember how I likened it to Rick Riordan? Well, it's not only similar in terms of humor. Henderson--the jerk--is also a fan of six-hundred-foot cliffhangers. So I wouldn't invest the time and money in book one unless you're willing to grab books two and three as well.
The first Dragons, Zombies and Aliens blog was started in 2015. Somewhere between college coursework, paying rent with door-to-door sales, and keeping up with my sorority sisters, I wrote reviews, rants and commentaries on books, TV shows, and movies. Now, this blog has moved, improved, and the sky's the limit!