SUMMARY: (4 of 5 stars) I picked this one up because it’s the Sword & Laser Book of the Month and because I was in the mood for an urban fantasy. I was so tickled to discover that not only does this book have an interesting magic system, but it’s also a heist novel. Even if it’s slightly cliched at points, it’s lightweight, fast paced, and very fun. Recommended reading for the beach, pool, or if you’re up late trying to keep a fussy baby sleeping.
SPOILER WARNING: From this point forward, I’m going to discuss this book without any concern about spoilers. So, if you don’t like spoilers you should stop reading now.
Sometimes I worry that when I describe a book as a “good beach read” people will think I’m insulting it. I’m not. I love books like this. Just because it doesn’t plunge me into an emotional whirlpool or leave me with an existential crisis, does not mean that it’s not a good book, an enjoyable read. This book is fun, fun, fun.
I like pretty much all of the characters. The primary magic system — Osteomancy, magic derived from bones — is intriguing and fun. And there are suggestions of other magic systems at work in the world — we get a glimpse of one of them. I’m sure they turn up in greater detail in other books in the series.The setting is contemporary Los Angeles, which is part of California, which seceded from the United States at some point.
The story is about a young, but powerful osteomancer named Daniel Blackland who has been living on the streets, making his living as a thief since his parents were killed when he was a young child. He is hired to put together a team and pull off the heist of the century — robbing the most powerful osteomancer in LA, the ruler of LA, the Hierarch… who also happens to be the wizard who ate his father. So, he puts together a team of his friends and they go at it. Hijinks ensue. Betrayals, ambushes, near misses, and all sorts of fun things. And it culminates in a big magic fight where Daniel wins, but his world is changed forever.
It all just works very well together to create a light, fun, uncomplicated read.
My only complaint is that it’s so heavy on the tropes that it gets cliched at points. You know someone on the team is going to betray the others. And you know it’s not the person you immediately suspect. And because there’s a shape shifter on the team, you know it’s the shape shifter. I warned you about spoilers, but I called it just as soon as I realize this was going to be a heist novel and saw who was joining the group. I wasn’t really surprised by any of the twists and turns in the story and there are several.
But, that’s OK. I had a good time with it even though I could see where it’s going. I know there are loops on a rollercoaster, but I still enjoy the ride.
So, yeah. If you like urban fantasy, if you like heist novels, if you’re looking for something light and fun to read in Cancun, I would recommend this one to you.
Affiliate Link: California Bones by Greg Van Eekhout