Unshapely Things is the first book in Mark Del Franco’s Conner Grey series. Conner is a druid who lost most of his abilities in a magical fight and now spends his time helping the Boston PD with magical cases that are beneath the attention of the Ward Guild. Magic exists in the present day world after a convergence of the magical world and the human world squashed the two together. All kinds of creatures and magical beings exist living along side humans.
Conner was a rising star in the Ward Guild when he was tasked with bringing in a eco-terrorist elf who put the whammy on him, leaving Conner with a black blog on his brain that neither magic nor human medicine can cure. With the loss of his abilities, Conner lost his career and high rise condo. Now he occasionally works with Murdock an officer with the Boston PD and workout buddy. Conner is called to the scene of a grisly murder where a fair-haired prostitute fairy’s heart has been ripped from his chest, wings pinned down by warding stones. On top of which a fey holiday, Midsummer’s Day, is just around the corner and the Weird, where Conner and other impoverished fey live, is about to live up to its name. Plus, big things are happening in the fey world when the leaders of the fairies and the elves are meeting in summit in Ireland to try and bring about a semblance of unity between the two factions. The elves sided against the fey in World War II and aided Hitler in his genocide now bad feelings remain as the elves try to live down their past with some sympathizers who still believe the elves are a superior race and were right to try and usurp power.
Murder, mystery, and mayhem rein in Unshapely Things. Conner is a sympathetic character without being too whiny, though he does this more then his fair share. I enjoyed learning his background without a lot of exposition (there was some of course), and the world building was nicely done. For a debut novel, Unshapely Things had decent pacing and characters. I admit to skimming some of the Hero Gets a Beating paragraphs and pages because, while it seems to be a mainstay of the urban fantasy detective genre, they are all very similar and my brain is a little over saturated with the Hero besting the Bad Guy in the end, or at a minimum escaping his clutches. The mystery was intriguing and I wasn’t able to figure out how everything worked out before it was revealed at the end, which is always exciting to me. The twists and turns were well plotted and I’m eagerly looking forward to delving further into the series.
The secondary cast of characters were quite fun and lively. Conner uses Glow Bees to do a Sending (summons) as his magical abilities have been reduced and he can’t use his own magic to do so. In answer to his Sending Stinkwort a flit (think pixie like character) arrives and is soon brought in on the case. Conner also seeks the help of Briallen, his mentor growing up once he manifested his powers. Briallen is a powerful druid and is instrumental to Conner in solving the crimes he comes up against. But probably my favorite secondary character was Meryl, a feisty archivist druid, who is always one step ahead of Conner and helps him out in her own way. If this book were made into a movie I would love to play Meryl. Mostly because I’m a huge nerd and she seemed like one too. She also seemed to be one of the most original secondary characters as several of the others were reminiscent of characters in the Dresden Files series and the Hallows series. Don’t get me wrong. Unshapely Things stands in its own right as a decent urban fantasy mystery and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series. I just LOVE finding good series with many books in them. It’s like stumbling across a person who becomes a good friend and you know they are going to stick around for a few years.