Jennifer Blackstream’s “Deadline”: A Blend of Magic and Crime

Shade Renards has decades and a dark past behind her, but right now she’s just a village witch. And she doesn’t want to be. Her biggest dream is to be a detective, helping people uncovering crimes instead of helping people with their backache or pets that get sick. Despite her mentor’s explicit disapproval, Shade opens up a new investigation agency. Her first case is a missing—possibly dead—person. But she finds more than just a dead body.

The victim she is supposed to find apparently had worked to build a vampire’s vault room. Now this said vampire’s book of secrets get stolen by a thief and he wants Shade’s help to get the book back. With a promise of extremely big fee (and a tiny bit of intimidation) as her external motivation, Shade sets out to solve her first case as private detective. Now she only needs to confront the suspects: a vengeful wizard, one (or two) skilled sorceress, and a lethally seductive fey.

I found Jennifer Blackstream’s Deadline a surprisingly fun and easy read. The book is the first in the Blood Trails series. At first, I had been hesitant because of the cover. It had seemed too childish and didn’t give much promise about the content. But I decided to go through with it and quickly got immersed in the story.

The book itself is more mystery than fantasy, which is good. After all you would find it hard to deduce the culprit when there is so much magic involved. On the other hand, while the world building itself is pretty decent, I would be grateful if the author puts more effort into describing what kind of magical creatures that appear in the book. Most of the times I need to google the name of the creatures because there is no explanation about what they are, what makes them different from other creature, how they look, etc.

The main character, Shade, is introduced as someone who is much older than she seems to be. There are also mentions of her dark past and mysterious magic skill, but this book doesn’t delve much into it—or at all, actually. While this makes Shade’s character a bit shallow for me, it does make me want to read the next book in the series. It gives promise that something great has happened and will probably happen again in the future. Isn’t that curious?

The other characters in the book are so interesting. Their personalities are quirky and very distinct from each other, making it easier to tell them apart (I still hope that there is more description about their appearances and species though). The book’s pace is pretty slow, which is nice when you are not the type of person who doesn’t read in rush. It is perfectly a cozy mystery book. A good recommendation for people who wants to spend their afternoon basking in a fantasy realm with a good mystery to solve.

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