Monday, September 7, 2015

#Monday Review - The Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin (Fantasy>Urban Fantasy)

Series: SPI Files # 1
Format: Paperback, 292 pages
Release Date: December 31, 2013
Publisher: Ace 
Source: Library
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy

We’re Supernatural Protection & Investigations, known as SPI. Things that go bump in the night, the monsters you thought didn’t exist? We battle them and keep you safe. But some supernatural baddies are just too big to contain, even for us…
When I moved to New York to become a world famous journalist, I never imagined that snagging a job at a seedy tabloid would change my career path from trashy reporter to undercover agent. I’m Makenna Fraser, a Seer for SPI. I can see through any disguise, shield, or spell that a paranormal pest can come up with. I track down creatures and my partner, Ian Byrne, takes them out—usually saving my skin in the process.
Our cases are generally pretty routine, but a sickle-wielding serial killer has been prowling the city’s subway tunnels. And the murderer’s not human. The fiend in question, a descendant of Grendel—yes, that Grendel—shares his ancestor’s hatred of parties, revelry, and drunkards. And with New Year’s Eve in Times Square only two days away, we need to bag him quickly. Because if we don’t find him—and the organization behind him—by midnight, our secret’s out and everyone’s time is up.

The Grendel Affair is the first installment in the SPI Files by Lisa Shearin, the author who previously wrote the Raine Benares series. Shearin's protagonist is MaKenna Fraser, a seer who is new to the group known as SPI (Supernatural Protection & Investigations). For new readers of this series like me, you probably should read Shearin's short novella called Lucky Charms which was released as part of the Night Shift Anthology. Lucky Charms is considered the prequel to the SPI Files.

Mac moved from Weird Sisters, North Carolina, to NYC to be a journalist. With her seer abilities, she was picked up by SPI and teamed up with former NYPD and military veteran Ian Byrne. SPI's mission is to keep the world safe for humans and paranormals alike. As a seer, Mac can see through any disguise, shield, or spell that a paranormal pest can come up with. It's a handy skill to have when you are in NYC where the Supernatural have come to enjoy such amenities as flushing toilets.

Not unlike Lucky Charms, The Grendel Affair blends humorous conversations and witty dialogue with danger, action, and plenty of interesting secondary characters. The story begins with Mac doing a job for an antique collector that ends up in bloodshed and an awareness that Mac is pretty much a human with no real skills at being a badass. Grendel's are loose in the city and looking for some long-delayed revenge especially on the SPI's director, Vivienne Sagadraco. Loved Vivienne. She's definitely one of the most interesting and terrifying characters that you won't want to miss. 

Loved MaKenna and Ian as partners even though he needs to find a way to trust her a bit more, and she needs to buck up buttercup. I dare say that I would love to see MaKenna given a bit of training so that she can stop being protected by her partner. Yes, I do realize that losing MaKenna would be a major failure for SPI. Fun fact: she carries a fake handgun loaded with tequila and is deadly with a paint gun, yet she couldn't capture the thing she was sent to get rid of!

The Grendel Affair mixes a combination of myth and legend with Grendel(s) from Beowulf's time. Toss in New Years Eve, NYC, vampires, werewolves, ghouls and spawn, and I can't wait to read the next installment! There is a hint of romance, but Shearin doesn't waste time trying to shove it in readers faces. I would also relate to other readers when they say this story/series reminds me of the Men In Black. No skin of my teeth?


  1. I found this book to be so fun. I listened to the audio, which has a great narrator. I've not read the Raine Benares series that you mentioned. I just met with this author in Night Shift. Great review.