26 December 2019

Review || Blood & Ash (The Jezebel Files #1) by Deborah Wilde




Cold-blooded kidnappers. Long-lost magic. When things get serious, she goes full Sherlock.


Ashira Cohen takes pride in being the only female private investigator in Vancouver. With her skills, her missing persons case should be a piece of cake.

She wasn’t counting on getting bashed in the skull, revealing a hidden tattoo and supernatural powers she shouldn’t possess.

Or the bitter icing on top: a spree of abductions and terrifying ghostly creatures on a deadly bender.

And don’t even get her started on the golems.

Reluctantly partnered with her long-time nemesis Levi, the infuriating leader of the magic community, Ash resolves to keep her focus on the clue trail and off their sexual tension because WTF is up with that?

But with a mastermind organization pulling strings from the shadows and Levi’s arrogance driving her to pick out his body bag, can Ash rescue the captives and uncover the truth or will the next blood spilled be her own?







 


The tagline on the cover is "A snarky urban fantasy detective series". Well, I freaking love snark. Snark's my favorite. And UF detectives are decidedly a weak spot for me so off I went requesting!

Set in Vancouver, Canada, Ashira Cohen is a mundane; that is, she has no magical powers. In a world where you are classified as Nefesh (magic) or mundane, being an ordinary PI is unquestionably a handicap. When she gets a head injury on a case, she discovers a tattoo hidden in her hair — a tattoo that has apparently been putting the kibosh on magical abilities she didn't know she had. Between hunting down who was behind her unconsented ink and investigating the disappearances of both mundane and Nefesh teens, she has her work cut out for her.

Blood & Ash was unusually culturally inclusive. It's rare to see urban fantasy with a foothold in Jewish spiritualism. The author went past the typical Golem mythology and incorporated the Lost Tribes of Israel into her world-building and magical backstory. She also created diverse characters, including Ash's friends: Priya, an amazing hacker of Indian ethnicity and Arkady, a Korean-Canadian martial artist representing LGTBQ+. None of these elements felt like an afterthought as they sometimes will in the name of heterogeneity in urban fantasy either. The secondary characters were well rounded, likable, and were central in furthering the plot. 

The characters are strong and the alternate urban universe was without objection. There's no shirking of action and while some things with the magical world weren't defined as strongly as I hoped, it did make for a swift read.  I didn't find it as snarky as advertised but that could simply be that I'm used to a higher quality of snark. As for the romance, I didn't find it very organic. Maybe it's supposed to be one of those friends to lovers tropes that I'm not overly fond of.  Instead of straight UF, I would say Blood & Ash borders on paranormal romance. Either way, I see a lot of opportunity for future character growth. Overall, it's a decent start to a new series!