Publication date: June 1st 2021 Goodreads M agic may be secret, but it’ll kill you anyway. Small town mayor’s assistant Elizabeth has enough...

Review || A Grimoire for Gamblers by Amanda Creiglow



Publication date: June 1st 2021


Magic may be secret, but it’ll kill you anyway.

Small town mayor’s assistant Elizabeth has enough on her plate grieving her father’s suicide. She doesn’t need his stash of magical knowledge in the attic. She doesn’t need the hidden supernatural subculture of monsters it pulls her into. And she certainly doesn’t need hints that her father’s madness might have been a smokescreen for something far darker.

But uncovering her father’s secrets could be the only way Elizabeth can stop a string of suspicious suicides… if the local wizard doesn’t rip the memories out of her mind, first.

Wizards, right?
Ordinary humans stumbling into the magical world isn't anything new, though usually those humans are far from ordinary as they typically have yet unfulfilled magical powers. Not so in A Grimoire for Gamblers. Our protagonist is truly human and has only stumbled into the magical world after the death of her father many years after admitting himself into a psychiatric ward. 

I appreciated that Elizabeth doesn't have any powers. She's been thrown into this world and she doesn't mysteriously pick everything up through mitosis. As with most urban fantasy MCs, she's a little bit snarky and we spend a lot of time in her head listening to her as she tries to figure this all out. She doesn't immediately merge with this new world and spends a lot of the time wondering if her father's supposed insanity isn't genetic. At this point though, why not try a spell to see and she does, with the help of computers, scanners, and even a Cricut. Annnd promptly sets herself on fire. Okay, so she's muddling through the best she can but she's smart and she'll figure it out. 

True to the rules of urban fantasy, the world-building is enmeshed in the "real" world as we humans know it. Oh sure, there are some interesting locales such as the casino where humans are gambling with their souls and a fighting arena where supernatural creatures are pitted against each other. At the same time, the vast majority of this book takes place right here, in the city Elizabeth knows. 

There were a few holes in the plot I think, or at least in the plot devices. While the toy voodoo train set up in the attic was neat, I didn't really understand what it had to do with everything. Why would her dad have a train linked to the real-world train? And some of the characters weren't really explained. Gravelings? Vampiric Spirits? Also, from the first pages, Elizabeth mentions her boyfriend and thinks about him throughout the novel. He's not even really in the book other than her thoughts, so what was the point of having her in a relationship? 

All in all, though, this was a pretty solid urban fantasy. It managed to be very unique in a lot of ways, including the technology-boosted magic. Work smarter, not harder, right? There were obviously some things that didn't work as well for me, but as this is the first in the series, I'm not going to judge it too harshly. It's hard to do urban fantasy that hasn't been done before and this is a solid foundation for the series to continue.