Camden, North London. A tangled, mangled junction of train lines, roads and waterways. Where minor celebrities hang out with minor criminals and where tourists and moody teenagers mingle.
In the heart of Camden, where rail meets road meets leyline, you might find the Arcana Emporium, run by one Alex Verus. He won't sell you a wand or mix you a potion, but if you know what you're looking for, he might just be able to help. That's if he's not too busy avoiding his would-be apprentice, foiling the Dark, outwitting the Light, and investigating a mysterious relic that has just turned up at the British Museum.
Reviewed on 1st November 2014
The first book in the Alex Verus series, this book introduces the character and his world well through a first-person tale which finds the mage stuck between two magical factions who both want to get their hands on a recently discovered artefact.
It's no secret that Jacka was inspired by Jim Butcher's Dresden Files novels, and the style does feel incredibly similar - yet the London setting makes some things feel more authentic to me (knowing that city far better than I know Chicago). The tone does however seem a little too cocky in places and I felt that it might have been good to have a narrator that felt younger and a little less confident.
The plot is solid and contains a good exploration of the character's backstory that's developed throughout. I thought that in places it was over laboured though and it felt we covered too much in one go and that it would have been nice to have a bit more left mysterious to tempt me into the rest of the series.
I'm not sure that the book is quite my cup of tea, but enjoyed it enough that I plan to pick up the second novel in the series at some point in the future.