Title: Stray Magic
Series: Strays #1
Author: Kelly Meding
Format: Paperback & eBook, 416 pgs
Published: Jun. 19, 2018 by Harper Voyager
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Rating: 2 out of 5 Wine Glasses
Shiloh Harrison was hoping for a few days off to recover from a particularly nasty assignment, preferably with the help of the talented hands (and, well, the rest of his body too) of her sexy boyfriend, Vincent. But when a group of vampires takes an entire trailer park hostage, there’s nothing to do but make her apologies and get to the scene.
Such is the life of a Federal Marshal in the Paranormal Investigators Unit.
Yet this isn’t like her typical track-and-nab case: something is going on that has vampires scared, and it takes all her strength not to imagine what could frighten such powerful creatures. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have that option. Her boss is MIA, someone is snatching vampires, and there’s a ticking clock that can only end one way: a bloodbath.
Unless she can stop it.
Shiloh is a U.S. Marshall in the Paranormal Investigation Unit. Her have to be available at all hours job makes relationships difficult, to say the least. However, her current boyfriend Vincent has her wondering if maybe more could be on the horizon, until a Vampire decides to take over a trailer park.
It is all on Shiloh as her boss goes missing, black magic is creeping around, and enemies and allies get switched around.
First in a new Urban Fantasy series, Stray Magic doesn't mess around in dropping you into the world, so much so, I felt a bit lost and overwhelmed in the beginning. This is the first in the series but I couldn't help feeling I was missing some background in regards to character relationships. There are some info dumps for the world building but with references to super computers and advanced technology alongside a video rental store and flip phones, it was hard to set the story in a time and place. The acknowledgment of some supernatural and paranormal beings, being known to the world, is just that, a brief acknowledgement. I would have liked a more thorough explanation of the world; this feeling was tied into feeling like this wasn't the start of the series.
Told in first person from our heroine Shiloh's point-of-view, she is our leader through the story. She is half djinn half human with abilities to grant three wishes and has Quarrel pheromones that are hard for her to control. She is tough, snarky, and fun to follow along with but it was hard to feel her emotional connection to the other characters, thus, making secondary characters feel vaguer.
This story is basically Shiloh trying to solve a mystery with supernatural beings and seemingly involved in, not a love triangle, but love quad. Shiloh has her boyfriend Vincent, who, she keeps saying, she wants more with, the vampire Tennyson who she spends the most time with and while it seems there may be more on his side, there are leanings from her, and her co-worker and ex, Jaxon. What we get from her thoughts about Jaxon are mostly, her observations about how hot he looks, how pretty his eyes are, and remembering how much she liked him in the bedroom; it doesn't feel deep. There seems to be or was a deeper relationship between them but we never see it and I never felt it.
The mystery/thriller angle of investigating who is behind the necromancy and black magic was fun to follow along with but we barely got to know the villain and the wrap-up of that part was rushed. There are some shocking twists along the way but some felt unsupported making the plot threads feel wild and loosely thrown about.
Shiloh was a solid character but emotional connections to secondary characters helping us get to know them and create a setting and world was lacking. There was an outline of the supernatural world but random components (Shiloh's quarrel pheromones, Crux sexual transport) were thrown out there and never really integrated with the story and characters. There are loose ends at the end of the story with part of the mystery not solved and the quad love angle getting a twist. If looking for a female lead urban fantasy with supernatural beings running amok, this would fit the bill, just be prepared for this to feel more like a dry first reading and hope for emotional connections/understandings/payoffs to come in the second.