Lost and Found by J M Beal
One of the joys of going to conventions is finding relatively unknown authors. Some of those authors aren’t very creative and just produce fan-fic of whatever series is doing well. In Urban Fantasy, you see a lot of Laura K Lite (Vampire Porn), Monster Hunter-esque (Gun – Porn), and Supernatural-ish (Homosexual porn) writing. You have to hunt far and wide to find the gems in the pile. Lost and Found is one of those gems. Here is Beal’s elevator pitch:
“Grace has a weird life. Even before she accidentally finds a werewolf that’s not a werewolf on the way home from work, she has a weird life. If it stopped at ghosts and werewolves it wouldn’t be so bad. At least the people who hunt these things know how to deal with those.
Nate’s had an entire life of supernatural crap, but he’s got no idea why Grace keeps exploding in white light every time she’s in trouble. But, surprisingly, they make a good team. If there’s suddenly a little more mystery in his life than he’d like it’s worth it. Even when it’s a lot more mystery, and witches, and psychics, and just mess it’s still worth it.”
This isn’t porn and there aren’t a lot of gun scenes. Frankly, it doesn’t feel derivative of any other novel or movie at all. The dead or magical creatures, of which there are a variety, are mostly of a different sort than the usual fodder of the Urban Fantasy canon. There are werewolves, but we are spared the usual “pack dynamic” discussions. I don’t mean to dismiss other author’s takes on these things, but I’m happy to see someone NOT fall back on the standard archetypes.
This is a story about people, wounded people. The focus in this novel is the long-term damage taken from a lifetime of dealing with monsters. Nate and his mother are definitely Exhibit A in the museum of “People Whose Lives Were Destroyed By Monsters”. Grace’s principle damage is from the less-magical monsters. In fact, a major examination in this book is whether people should be hunting monsters at all.
Honestly, I’d like a bit more development to Grace and Nate. The story focuses on them pretty well, but it doesn’t dig deeply into their motivations most of the time. You get the impression that they aren’t particularly motivated, which sells them a bit short. Still, they are fun to follow around and have a lot of ‘cute’ interaction.
More gun porn would be nice…
This is a real gem of a novel. Very light and friendly. I think it is stirring up some good concepts and it stands a good chance of working them out in future books. I don’t agree will all the author’s choices, but I think they are developed solidly enough. I enjoyed picking up the novel and will pick up the next one.
I don’t know if this is Beal’s first novel, but it has that vibe to it. There are some concepts that I think are great and some that fall a bit flat. I think she doesn’t develop the interaction with the merfolk enough. I think she needs to link the damage caused by human and non-human monsters more explicitly. (It doesn’t really connect till toward the end of the book.) I’d say the win on this novel is that it was very easy to pick up. I do recommend this book and give it four stars.