Her paintball gun as a weapon

The Grendel Affair - Lisa Shearin

I liked this author’s previous series about Raine Benares. When I learned that she’s started a new series, an urban fantasy, I grabbed the first book. And what a romp!

The protagonist Makenna Fraser is a former sleazy tabloid journalist and a ‘seer’. She can see supernatural creatures through any disguise or magical veil. Now she’s working for Supernatural Protection & Investigation agency (SPI), and her boss is a dragon lady. Literally – her boss is a female dragon disguised as a lady. As the equal opportunity employer, SPI employs many paranormals. Vampires, werewolves, and elves work alongside humans to keep the normal people of New York safe. Makenna fits right in the motley SPI crew.

As she isn’t an ass-kicker – she is small and untrained, the only seer in the agency – her boss assigned her a hunky partner, a bodyguard i.e. babysitter, Ian. Together, they investigate and take out bad guys. Or rather Ian does the taking-out and Makenna just points at a disguised ghoul or a veiled vampire, says “shoot”, and scuttles out of the way fast. She doesn’t even have a gun, not a real one anyway. Her fake gun is loaded with tequila.

But when shit hits the fan and a villain imports a couple of almost unstoppable monsters into New York for a spectacular New Year’s Eve massacre in Times Square, Makenna has to keep up with the big guys. If she doesn’t, the monsters would do the irreparable damage to the citizens of New York, her friends would die, and she would be out of a job. A resourceful girl from the hicks, she improvises: she stops an assassin with a tractor, fights vampires with cans of aerosole paint, and marks the invisible beasts with her paintball gun.       

For the entire length of the book, the action is lightning-fast and non-stop, tumbling in a circus acrobat fashion, seemingly random but skillfully controlled and directed, and the tension thrums like a taut string. Whenever our protagonists get a short reprieve from their heroic sprees, they replenish their weaponry, eat cookies and banter. And get their injuries treated before wading back into the fray again.

The author’s irreverent sense of humor made me smile all the time I was reading this tale, except when the characters fought for their lives. Then I was holding to my chair arms and cheered them on.

I have to admit that all the characters are rather 2-dimentional, like in a graphic novel. There is action on every page and dialogue in bubbles, but there is no character development in this book, no room for it anyway, as the action scenes take all the available page space. But it doesn’t detract from the pleasure of reading it. Not everything we consume should be a nutritious meal. Sometimes, candies are nice too.

Here are a few quotes:

The vamp smiled, showing me fangs that were way too bright to be natural. Someone had gotten one or five whitening treatments too many.

I tried to envision a dental whitening treatment for a vampire. An interesting picture emerged.

Later on, the same vampire is running for his life from something bigger and badder than he is, and Makenna watches:

So desperate that he didn’t hear or care that his pants caught on something in the street, ripping them when he scrambled to his feet. The vamp’s fancy shoes found traction, and he ran across the street, slipping and sliding, half the ass torn out of his pants, showing the world one red-satin-boxers—covered cheek. I dimly wondered if there was a Santa on the front, or maybe Rudolph.

Another visual popped up in my hear, equally delightful

Here is the heroine’s own description of her size, in comparison with one of her friends and colleagues, a werewolf:

He’d pause occasionally and raise his muzzle, letting the air currents flow over his nose that was the size of my closed fist. As far as fists went, it wasn’t that big. As far as wolf noses went, it was enormous.

I enjoyed this book more than many more serious volumes in the same genre. Highly recommended.