Monday, November 23, 2015

Armageddon Rules - A Book Review

During my recent outing in Toronto, where I saw Chris Cornell (you can read about that here), I wanted something to read while waiting for the concert to start. My husband and I wandered into the huge Indigo bookstore at the Eaton's Centre. As I drooled over browsed the books, I found an author I'd seen around Twitter, J.C. Nelson. I'd watched his interview on Whisky, Wine, and Writing and he'd been a mentor in Pitch Wars, which I'd hoped to enter but didn't. Because I'd seen him around and thought his books sounded interesting, I picked up Armageddon Rules.

This is the second book in the Grimm Agency series. No, I haven't read the first book (Free Agent). As mentioned in previous book reviews, I'm doing writer research by picking books mid-series.

In Armageddon Rules, Marissa Locks has a hard time catching a break. As an agent for the Fairy Godfather, Grimm, she runs from issue to issue solving magical problems. She is also trying to help her best friend, Princess Ari, get through school and learn magic, solve a curse put on her boyfriend, Liam, and train a new piper to deal with deadly poodles.

When a queen tries to take revenge on Marissa, Ari ends up trapped in a sleeping spell and Grimm becomes frozen, unable to communicate and help her. Marissa accidentally signs an ironclad agreement with a demon to start the apocalypse.

When I told my husband about this book, I described it as a fairy tale on crack. That's not a bad thing. Overall I found Armageddon Rules a fast-paced story with vivid characters and a unique fantasy world.

There is lots of action in the book to keep the pace up though it took a while to get to the real story. The story didn't drag, but I found myself wanting it to get the point faster. Once the story picked up, I had a hard time putting the book down.

I found the characters well written, especially the women. There are lots of strong women in this story, without them coming off as flighty or needy, which can be a problem in some books. Marissa uses her head, especially when dealing with the Four Horsemen of the apocalypse. She's also not a know it all. It's a fine balance to strike and Nelson did it well. I especially enjoyed Marissa's wit and sarcasm.

One of the biggest things for fantasy is the world. J.C. Nelson has created a rich, unique world using the basis of fairy tales. There is a divide between Kingdom, the fairy tale world, and our world. For the most part, humans have no idea this other world exists. There are all manner of fairy tale characters, some Marissa interacts with, others we are just told about. I was a little disappointed that I didn't get to see Low Kingdom, I'd like to see what it's like--maybe in the first book since it was alluded to that Marissa did go there at one point.

Marissa's boyfriend, Liam, is gone for much of the book. Since I didn't read the first book, I didn't have the luxury of already knowing their dynamic. Though he's not present for a good portion, I sensed their connection and believed that they loved each other. Though at times I found that Marissa pined for him a little too often. Then again, if my best friend was in a sleeping curse and my boss was unable to communicate with me, I'd probably want my boyfriend around too for comfort and help.

Most importantly, J.C. Nelson made me cry. Oh, yes, he did. I'm not going to spoil it. But I was invested enough in the story and Marissa and Liam's relationship that I got quite teary at one point near the end.

I wasn't big on the killer poodles. I get why J.C. Nelson did it. Taking something cute and usually unassuming (though are dogs ever really unassuming) and turning it into something deadly. I'm also not usually a big fan of demons, though in Armageddon Rules, it didn't bother me at all.

If you're looking for a fast-paced urban fantasy read, I recommend picking up J.C. Nelson's Grimm Agency series.

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