Title: Wild Card (Raine Benares 0.5)
Author: Lisa Shearin
Published: November, 2014
My name is Raine Benares. I’m a seeker, a finder of things lost and people missing. I’ve never had to do both in one day, or had this many lives at stake–including mine.
The search for a missing ring leads me to the abduction of eight magically gifted children. Their souls were stolen while they slept, and unless I find those souls by sunrise, their bodies will die.
Both cases have one thing in common–they’re linked to a goblin secret society high-stakes poker game, whose members are practitioners of the blackest of black magic. As a seeker, I can track those captured children’s souls, but to spring them will take magic I haven’t got.
That’s where Tamnais Nathrach comes in. He’s the seductive embodiment of sin itself. He’s also a goblin dark mage with an even darker past, the owner of the city’s most notorious casino–and the only person with magic enough to reach the kids in time.
Why are the most dangerous predators the most beautiful?
The stakes are high; the odds of success are low. And I’m betting with my life–a life I’ll have to trust to a darkly tempting goblin mage I just met.
This is a prequel to a pre-existing series. Since I haven’t read Shearin’s books, I thought this little novella would be a nice way to see if I’d be interested in the series as a whole. I had some concerns that not having read the other books might put me at a disadvantage, but it didn’t. This book worked well to introduce the characters to me. And I liked them. So that worked.
Characterization and badassery
Raine Benares comes from a family of pirates, but she is the black sheep of the family with her pesky scruples and desire to help people. She’s a sorceress of moderate skill, and she has a tendency to leap before she looks. That doesn’t mean she’s foolish or heedless. She’s just a woman of action. She’s not intimidated by people who could definitely kick her ass without even trying. Though she does have some good fighting skills and a bit of magic at her disposal, her primary weapons are her quick mind and her tenacity. That’s pretty badass.
Plot and pacing
Being a short novella, the pace is quick. The plot is straightforward as there’s only one arc. Fine by me. This was a very enjoyable read.
Prose and editing
I like it. It’s the right kind of understated humor that amuses and lightens the tone of a book.
“Let’s just say my family and I don’t draw our lines in the sand at the same place.”
I will definitely proceed with book one of this series. I enjoyed Raine a great deal, and am interested in seeing what she and Tamnais get up to. The worldbuild was more of a high fantasy variety, with goblins, elves and demons. But it’s done with a very modern approach so it feels fresh. Lisa Shearin did an excellent job of establishing her characters and worldbuild effortlessly within a very short novella. That’s quite a feat. I’m really looking forward to seeing what this series has to offer. I took away half a star because the resolution of the story wasn’t terribly dramatic. It did set up nicely to segue into the series, though, so it’s just a small quibble.