Published February 2020
Sinister Magic is the first instalment of the Death Before Dragons Urban Fantasy series about off-the-books government assassin Val Thorvald, who uses powers derived from being half-elvish, and a variety of magical charms, to hunt down and execute supernatural beings who have hurt humans. I have not read anything by this author before, but it has all the elements I look for in this genre, and a lot of high star ratings, so I had high hopes, but sadly I found the story rather uninspiring.
The plot centres around Val trying to find a cure for her friend/work contact who has been poisoned, while trying to avoid an arrogant dragon shapeshifter who has arrived from another realm, also to hunt down magical criminals hiding out on Earth. Unfortunately “Zav” disagrees with her methods, and instead wants to catch and rehabilitate them, rather than just killing them like Val does. There are werewolves, ghosts, vampires and various other creatures – like in basically all UF – but on the plus side, no romance.
Unfortunately I didn’t find the characters appealing (apart from Sindari the tiger of course) – Val is meant to be over 40, so her snark just comes across as immaturity, and her motivations suspect – she wants to save Willard to keep her job, not because she’s a good friend. Zav is not remotely appealing, if she’s going for a slow-burn enemies to lovers plot for the series. The action sequences weren’t bad but everything all happens a bit too conveniently. This was free during an Amazon promotion – I might try another from the author, but with so many other books on my TBR, I’m not convinced I’ll be buying the rest of this series anytime soon.