*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*
Blub: The only thing worse than being a Hunter in the fae-ridden city of Harborsmouth, is hunting vampires in Bruges.
The medieval city of Bruges is quaint, but the local Hunters’ Guild is understaffed, the canals are choked with dead bodies, and there’s no shortage of supernatural predators as likely suspects.
On second thought, maybe Bruges isn’t so bad after all.
With a desire to prove herself, protect the innocent, and advance within the ranks of the Hunters’ Guild, Jenna Lehane hits the cobbled streets of Bruges with blades at the ready. Someone, or something, is murdering tourists and dumping their bodies in the city’s scenic canals. With the help of a mysterious stranger, Jenna begins to piece together clues that are dotted throughout the city like blood spatter.
Determined to stop the killings, Jenna delves into a bloody local history that only raises more questions–but some secrets are best left buried. Jenna must put her combat training to the test as she struggles to unearth the truth about an ancient enemy.
Hunting in Bruge is an action-packed, fast-paced urban paranormal fantasy book: vampire hunters vs. vampires and other nasties; protecting the innocent; saving the day from evil power-hungry plotters. This is the first in a series spun from the same universe as the Ivy Granger, Psychic Detective, series, so the writing is clearly accomplished and smooth.
My favourite aspect of this book was the accompanying cast: Ash and the other hunters. I liked the relationships and interplay between them and the main character, Jenna, and am looking forward to seeing more from them and how their stories develop in future installments. I really liked that as well as their various talents, each of Jenna’s sidekicks also had their own ‘flaw’ and had to work around or through it, but still contributed their bit to the team as a whole.
I felt somewhat let down by Jenna’s detective skills unfortunately. Not in terms of the main plot, as there wouldn’t be much to any crime story if the main characters were able to suss the whole plot early on, but Jenna’s observational powers seemed sorely lacking for a trained Hunter. I don’t want to spoil any plot twists, but there were quite a few times when I was pulling my hair out as she came up with some far-fetched explanation for something when there was an obvious answer staring her in the face! Horses, not zebras Jenna! Horses!
I was also a bit put off by the quotes from Jenna at the top of many of the chapters. They read like a somewhat pompous Hunter trainee manual out of the context they actually belonged in. I didn’t feel it did the character justice, as in the actual narrative she was anything but pompous and certainly not so dictatorial as the ‘informative statements’ made her sound.
My only other minor gripe was the introduction of ideas/characters that later did not reappear, for example the Swan Maidens seemed to be a plot point on Jenna’s arrival in Bruge, but then swam out of sight and mind. I felt it was a shame to leave such a promising thread hanging, and hope it might be revisited in the future, as I feel Swan Maidens are an underused character-type in urban fantasy and so have plenty of potential.
Speaking of potential, there is a lot of it knocking around in this novel. It has it’s own standalone murder-mystery plot, which quickly leads to some monster hunting, then just when you think the pace is starting to wind down and wrap up, there is a new plot arc which launches into what looks to be a bigger, series-spanning story on a more epic scale. And the references to both the Ivy Granger series and various current pop culture tropes are fun to spot and create a nice juxtaposition between the bloody history of old Bruge, and the modern European city setting.
All-in-all I enjoyed this promising start to a new series, and feel that fans of Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan series, Jon McKinney’s Schildmaid saga, and/or Meg Cowley and Victoria DeLuis’ Relic Guardians series (to name but a few!) would enjoy this too.
I vowed to protect the innocent from the monsters, be they human, fae or undead, and I took my promises seriously. Sometimes that goal was all that kept me going. Life as a Hunter wasn’t easy.
– E. J. Stevens, Hunting in Bruge
For my review of Tales from Harborsmouth, E.J. Stevens’ collection of Ivy Granger short fiction, follow this link.