“Please tell me this is part of a series!” Less than halfway through Magic and the Shinigami Detective, I knew I wanted there to be more. It’s not so much that the mystery is interesting (though it is) as that the relationship between the two main characters is delightful, one of friendship, mutual trust, and an enjoyment of good food.
Magic and the Shinigami Detective is told from two points of view. The first point of view is that of Jamie Edwards, a woman, a federal agent, pulled from our world by a witch. Once she escapes, she joins the police system in her new home. The second, more used point of view is that of Henri Davenforth, who is one of the police department’s experts on magic and its use. The two end up partnered and working to solve the case of a break-in to the police evidence locker that used no means, magical or otherwise, recognizable to anyone on the force and resulted in the thieves gaining a powerful magic artifact. In the course of the adventure, they discover that the share a sense of humor and an enjoyment of good food: He knows all the restaurants in the area and she is a good cook. Most importantly, the two respect one another and value each other’s contributions to solving the puzzle before them.
The books makes for a lovely read if one wants to just relax and enjoy the adventure and the friendships.The mystery is clever, though the ending is both anticlimactic and strangely suited to the situation. The world, Draiocht, is a fun place to visit with its magic, mix of races-—Dwarves, Elves, and Werebeasts among them—-and late nineteenth-century vibe. Also, Jamie and Henri write notes to each other in the chapter headings and that is just adorable.
The book isn’t flawless; the world’s existence take a conscious effort to accept, especially at first. How is it possible that another world, one which is explicitly not a parallel Earth, has developed an almost identical system of law enforcement, has recognizable early-model car, and semi-Victorian manners while also having magic, elves, dwarves, and assorted other races? Surely some one, or all, of the variants would have changed the culture more? In short, Draiocht appears to consist of whatever bits and pieces of lore Raconteur felt like throwing together. That said, the odd bits and pieces of world building behave themselves consistently once thrown together, however unlikely their initial union.
The book is carried by its sheer exuberance and by the depth and variety of friendships shown throughout. Henry and Jamie are good buddies, but they aren’t the only two. Jamie is also friends with a woman who specializes in magic inventions, the other woman where she works, and a highly-placed wizard. Henri, though he starts out something of a loner, quickly develops other friendships as well, and there are signs of other working partnerships. It is a tremendous relief to read a book where the primary relationships work and where people actually take the trouble to communicate with one another.
Overall, I recommend this book to people who enjoy flights of fancy and would like to get away from our world for a while to adventure with an unexpected heroine in a strange and quirky place.
And there is a sequel. Charms and Death and Explosions (oh my!) came out in February this year. Find out what other books Honor Raconteur has written on her website.