Strange Magic by James A. Hunter

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Strange MagicTitle: Strange Magic
Author: James A. Hunter
Series: Yancy Lazarus Book 1
Publish Date: January 16, 2015
Publisher: James A. Hunter
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: Provided by the author

Publisher’s Description: Yancy is a bluesman, a rambler, a gambler, but not much more. Sure, he can do a little magic—maybe even more than just a little magic—but he knows enough to keep his head down and stay clear of freaky-deaky hoodoo like this business in LA.

Somehow though, he’s been set up to take a real bad fall—the kind of very permanent fall that leaves a guy with a toe tag. Unless, of course, he can find out who is responsible for the gangland murders, make peace in the midst of the gang feud, and take out said magical ass-hat before he hexes Yancy into an early retirement. Easy right?

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel (or, in other words, SPOILERS).

What did you think of the wizard dual in Strange Magic?

Well, for an old guy, Yancy did pretty darn good. I especially liked it when he just popped Arjun in the face. Wizards don’t expect physical resistance. That was very Indiana Jones. I was surprised that Yancy kept fighting as long as he did.  Kind of like the energizer bunny, really. I enjoy wizard fights. It’s interesting to see how they change their strategy on the fly. I don’t think I’d be a very good fighter. I can’t think of what would stop someone cold like the actions in this book. I would very much like to read the next book. I’d like to see where Yancy is going… and if he’s really a bad of a guy as he says he is. If he’s helping people, he can’t be all that bad, right?

Yancy’ll be back this summer, according to the author. Did you know the book is self-published? Pretty cool cover for a self-published book.

Go self-publishers! I don’t know what all goes into self-publishing, but after reading Yancy’s story, I’m glad it’s an option because I really did love this story. I cracked up so many times over the things that came out of Yancy’s mouth. He’s got my sense of humor. He’s hilarious. I agree that cover is awesome! That cover is what drew me in as I was searching for a new read. I hate to admit it, but I am one of those people who judge books by their covers. I know the authors work really hard on their stories, and one look at the cover should not decide if they get a reader or not. *shrug* That’s how I am. I have to say that I expected more errors in a self-published book. I’m impressed with the quality. What’d you think?

I caught a few mistakes, but not so many or so bad to be distracting. I thought the story was entertaining. Yancy sure is a master of snark! I love all the names he comes up with, like McGoon and Rent-A-Thug.

I know! If I had used a real highlighter in a real book instead of my the electronic version that comes with my kindle, I probably would have run out of ink. I don’t think I’ve found so many good quotes in one book. I had so many favorites that it would be tough to pick my favorite. So, ‘Vana, what do you suppose happened between Yancy & the guild that put Yancy so far out of favor?

He probably called the leader an ass-hat in front of his ass-hat friends. That would tweak any Merlin’s beard.

I don’t think ass-hat was quite the description. More like…”Bunch of tightwad, hypocritical, self- righteous, self- serving, bathrobe- wearing geezers.” That’s what he said, straight out of the book! That leads me to believe he got the raw end on some sort of political deal. I think we’ve all experienced that at one point in our lives.

Yeah. But for us, it’s just another day at the office.


“Mr. H & R was the Sith Lord of Mafioso bureaucrats.”

Nervous Nellie says …

Main characters: ♥♥♥♥ Yancy was great. He’s labeled “The Fixer.” We only hear about that name in passing and no real evidence is given to say why or how he’s come by that nickname. He’s a 65-year-old man that looks 40. Finally, a character that has some age and experience that is believable. This was another story that caters to the guys’ love of cars and guns. He describes his car with reverence and his guns with admiration. Yancy has a high tolerance for pain and even more stamina. I don’t think a 20-year-old could have kept up with him in this story. It was fantastic!

Other characters: ♥♥♥ Greg Chandler was okay. I think I would have like to have gotten deeper into Yancy and Greg’s relationship. I know they were in Vietnam together, but it felt weird that Greg would just call Yancy up out of the blue with a problem when they hadn’t seen each other for so long. Gavin Morse and Cesar Yraeta were the bad guys that were being played against one another. Yancy must have a heck of a reputation, but then Morse and Yraeta are surprised at what he can do. Weird. I would have liked to known Arjun Dhaliwal a little better. He’s on the run from The Guild just like Yancy. What is up with this Guild? Who are they and what do they do? Better yet, if Arjun and Yancy are both on the run, the Guild’s police can’t be all that good, right? I mean, two very powerful wizards just popping around causing all sorts of havoc? Huh.

World: ♥♥♥♥ I liked the world. I liked how the author described it and how the whole story played out. I noticed that the author didn’t stray into any places that were really unrealistic… well, except maybe the Hub and Harold the Mange’s house. That was pretty interesting.

Story: ♥♥♥♥ The story was pretty simple. I loved that Yancy was destructible and that he wasn’t sure about his own ability in carrying off mayhem and destruction when it was forced upon him. I loved his snark and his whole attitude. He carries guilt like we all do, and in the upcoming stories may confront those feelings and actually do something about them. I enjoyed the author’s descriptions of Arjun and the Rakshasa… and the other enemies that Yancy comes across. Case in point: “…claws, fangs, or gooey tentacle thingies…” Thingies? Is that a technical term? Hilarious is what I call it.

Overall: ♥♥♥♥ For a first shot book, self-published at that, I think it was great. Hats off, Mr. Hunter. You did good. I enjoyed it and I will be looking for the next book.

“I didn’t want to throw him in any ol’ piranha tank, I wanted to throw him into a tank filled with genetically modified super-piranhas carrying tasers and bullwhips…”

Takeaway: “…sometimes, bad choices are the only ones available.” AND “Sometimes no decision is the worst decision you can make.”

Invested Ivana says …

Main character: ♥♥♥ Yancy Lazarus has a lot of internal monologues, so the reader gets to know him pretty well over the course of this book. He wants to see himself as a drifter with no attachments, just taking in the music and ambiance where he finds it. But really, he’s kind of a softie and certainly a wise-ass. The reader gets a few interesting hints about Yancy’s past, but not much more. Yancy has a lot of awesome snark… but maybe a bit too much.

Other characters: ♥♥ The other characters in the book aren’t as well fleshed out, but they aren’t bad. There’s no real back-story on the villain, which I think is essential for a really engaging story. We know he’s trying to “save the world” in his own twisted way, but we don’t learn much more about his motivations. We learn that the rival gang leaders – reluctant allies of Yancy’s – are really loyal family men, but not what they are like as crime bosses or what their main goals are. The character we learn most about is Yancy’s longtime friend and ally, Greg, who gets him into the whole mess to start with. We know that relationship is deep, and we see a bit about Yancy and Greg’s past.

World: ♥♥♥♥ Yancy lives in a modern world with magic. Hunter gives us a decent look at the way magic works, at least for Yancy. The mage dual toward the end of the book is pretty neat, describing how the mages manipulate energy into shapes and effects that work with the laws of physics to produce the desired result. I really liked that part.

Story: ♥♥♥ This is an “investigate and terminate” story told by a snarky mage who can’t help but get involved even as he curses himself for doing it. There is a lot of action and a lot of exposition both, but not a lot of rationale for the events of the story because the villain and side characters are shallow on backstory.

Overall: ♥♥♥ I think this was a fun story with several laugh-out-loud moments. It could use some refinement and more depth, but for the first novel in a series, it’s a decent read. 

Stand Out Award Badge2Our reviews in this series:

If You Like This Book …

Stay tuned for more Yancy coming this summer, according to the author’s website.  Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series would be the obvious choice for a recommendation, but you might also try J. F. Lewis’s Void City novels and James Tuck’s Deacon Chalk novels.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

About Invested Ivana

I'm an adult learning professional, a book blogger at One Book Two, and lifetime reader. I like geeky things. All opinions expressed on this site are my own and do not reflect the opinions of my employers, my clients, the other reviewers on this site, or this site as a whole.

Posted on March 20, 2015, in All Reviews, Ivana's Reviews, Nell's Reviews, Standout Award and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: