My review of Crimes Against Magic (Hellequin Chronicles Book 1)by Steve McHugh
It’s been almost ten years since Nathan Garrett woke on a cold warehouse floor with nothing but a gun, a sword, and no idea of who he was or how he got there. His only clue … a piece of paper with his name on it. Since then, he’s discovered he’s a powerful sorcerer and has used his abilities to work as a thief for hire. But he’s never stopped hunting for his true identity, and those who erased his memory have never stopped hunting for him. When the barrier holding his past captive begins to crumble, Nathan swears to protect a young girl who is key to his enemy’s plans. But with his enemies closing in, and everyone he cares about becoming a target for their wrath, Nathan is forced to choose between the life he’s built for himself and the one buried deep inside him.
***May Contain Spoilers***
The book is set in modern day London with flashbacks to 15th century France. The story begins with a flashback and it instantly set the tone for the remainder of the book. I was immediately gripped from the start with the scene McHugh painted. The story flowed so easily and I eagerly devoured each page with the impatience to get to the next.
McHugh has weaved a story that leaves a cliff hanger at the end of every chapter, in the hope that the reader would want to continue – a hope that never failed in its delivery.
The novel switches from present day London for a couple of chapters before switching to 15th century France. I normally have a strong dislike towards flashbacks, as I just want to get on with the main story and not revisit past events. In the past, when books have utilised flashbacks, I found myself speed reading past them – but not with this book. The flashback chapters were riveting and when the scene moved to the present day, I felt irritated at stopping, but then I would soon become engrossed into the present day storyline that I found myself annoyed at moving back to the past – and thus the cycle was repeated.
The book contains themes of Greek mythology interwoven with Arthurian legends. A combination that might leave you scratching your head but it worked really well. And I enjoyed the twists McHugh applied to classic tales like the Iliad and King Arthur.
As like most urban fantasy novels, it is told in first person and solely from the main characters (Nate) point of view - while I would’ve liked to have seen into the thoughts of other characters - it allowed the reader to build a connection to Nate.
One particular aspect of the book I liked was the strong, feisty woman that Nate encountered throughout the book. They’re not your - helpless, damsel in distress princesses awaiting their prince charming - but independent woman who know how to look after themselves.
The book does contain violence and some scenes of light sex - it doesn’t cross over to being explicit and though I wouldn’t suggest the book to children, it should be fine for young adults/teenagers.
This is the author‘s debut novel and while I did notice the odd spelling/grammar mistake, they were so rare that it never stopped the flow of the book. This is a well edited novel, and it’s obvious the author has invested a large amount of time in producing a book that can stand alongside any other in a bookstore and not look out of place.
Some negative points:
- The main character - Nate, is seen as a powerful figure and feared by his enemies but he continuously finds himself in situations where he’s being pushed around by his adversaries. It’s not a major criticism – just a slight annoyance.
- The book, near towards the end, loses some of its beguilement. The story focused a little too much on Nate’s amnesia, and at times, to the determent of the story.
- The support cast were interesting and likeable but not developed to the point that I was overly apprehensive about whether or not they died.
This is an excellent, action packed, urban fantasy book. It’s a real page turner, and I finished the book within the day – a clear sign of how enjoyable I found the story.
I would highly recommend this book to fans of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files and if you’re looking for an edgier, less forgiving version of Harry - then let me introduce you to Nathan Garrett.
My rating out of 10 stars:
8 Stars – Not quite 9 stars as my interest did wane ever so slightly towards the end, however McHugh’s has created a wonderful debut book and I will certainly be reading book 2.