From the back of the book: “My name’s Alex Verus. It’s not the name I was born with, but that’s another story. I’m a mage; a diviner. Some people call mages like me oracles, or seers, or probability mages if they want to be really wordy, and that’s fine too, just as long as they don’t call me a ‘fortune teller.’
Alex is part of a world hidden in plain sight. He runs a magic shop in London that caters to a clientele that can do much more than pull rabbits out of hats. And while Alex’s own powers aren’t as showy as some mages’, he does have the advantage of foreseeing the possible future - allowing him to pull off operations that have a million-to-one chance of success.
But when Alex is approached by multiple factions seeking his skills to crack open a relic from a long-ago mage war, he knows that whatever’s inside must be beyond powerful. And thanks to his abilities, Alex can predict that by taking the job, his odds of survival are about to go from slim to none…”
I have to admit, I was pretty excited for Fated, the first book in the new Alex Verus series by Benedict Jacka. My first encounter with the series came at ALA Midwinter, where I read a blurb by Jim Butcher comparing Verus to Harry Dresden, and that was pretty much all I needed to know. I couldn’t wait to read it. Having finished the first book, now I can’t wait until I can find a copy of the next one!
As Fated is the start of a new series, Jacka spends time creating the world that Alex Verus inhabits. Particularly at the beginning of the book, there is quite a bit of explanation and backstory to bring the reader up to speed on Verus’ abilities, his past and how magic works (as an aside, Harry Dresden fans should be on the lookout for an Easter egg in chapter 1). This information is introduced well, but it does contribute to the sense that the book is slow to start with a lot of information provided upfront. As the plot kicks in though, the book quickly becomes very engaging as Verus begins to be drawn into multiple mysterious events. Jacka has created a compelling cast of characters who have real personalities in addition to their magical characteristics. These characters take the reader along for the ride in a very satisfying way and left me wanting to know more about them.
I found Fated to be an enjoyable ride. While fans of urban fantasy will find many aspects of this book comfortably familiar (and I am not the only one to sense this familiarity), Jacka has created a magical universe with many unique details that set it apart from other urban fantasies and help it to overcome the sense of deja vu that some plot elements might provoke. These details extend to every aspect of the story from the way that magic works, to the way that magical society is organized, to the vivid settings throughout the book. For fans of urban fantasies, I think that this is worthy series to add to your “To Read” pile. I know I am already eagerly looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
Read Alikes: Already read Fated and looking for similar books to tide you over until Cursed comes out in May? Try the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, the Twenty Palaces novels by Harry Connolly, or the Allie Beckstrom series by Devon Monk.
Note: Review based on ARC from publisher.