Title: Agent of Enchantment (Dark Fae FBI Book One)

Publishers/Authors: C.N. Crawford and Alex Rivers

Pages: 322 pp

Price: $12.99 / $2.99

Cassandra Liddell is a profiler with the Behavioral Analysis Unit of the FBI. She is also a trauma junkie. In the wake of her mother’s murder by her father when Cassandra was thirteen, she finds herself compulsively drawn to violence and fear — a fact that she repeatedly tries to deny, particularly to herself. When she is called to assist the London Police Department solve a series of strange murders, she discovers far more than she ever expected. Magic is real. The fae are real. And one of them is murdering mortal women for his own bizarre reasons. It’s up to Cassandra, Detective Constable Gabriel Stewart, and the mysterious fae Roan Taranis to stop him … but Taranis has his own agenda, and it involves secrets from Cassandra’s past ….

Agent of Enchantment was one of those books that popped up on a recommendation list. It looked interesting, and was free at the time, so I downloaded it; and then promptly forgot about for a year.

Maybe that’s a good thing, because now I don’t have to wait to finish the series. All four books have been released, and I can just keep reading.

And I will keep reading. I love urban fantasy, and finding one which not only holds my attention, but which offers a new take on the fae is difficult. I really liked the fact that Cassandra spent the first four or five chapters just being an ordinary FBI agent. The magical elements were introduced slowly and then wham. Once Cassandra is part of the hidden world of magic and mythical creatures, though, she’s in, and there is no going back. What started out as a psychological thriller with some paranormal elements took a hard left into dark fantasy and romance — unexpected, but I loved it.

Be aware: there are some disturbing sequences, with Cassandra herself acknowledging how dark her life has become and the terrible toll it is taking on her psyche. The fae she encounters are not nice. These are not twee Tinkerbell types. These are powerful and dangerous beings who feast on human emotion, and many of them are old enough to remember when they were worshipped as Gods. In an interesting twist, the term pixie is applied to a very specific type of being: the mixed offspring of human-fae matings. Whereas fae are the children of Adam and Lilith, and humans are the children of Adam and Eve, pixies can claim descent from all three primal ancestors; this makes their magic unusual and powerful — and makes pixies a threat to full-blooded fae. The few who have escaped enslavement in the fae realm live in exile, hidden among humans.

Cassandra is a wonderful protagonist: she’s driven, smart, clever, and cool under pressure. She wants to rid the world of monsters, and keep people like her mother safe. Deeply rational and naturally skeptical, it takes her some time to accept the existence of magic and the fae. But once she concedes that the evidence can no longer be denied, she dives headfirst into this new reality; because this is reality, and remaining willfully ignorant of how the world really works will just place herself and the innocents under her protection in danger.

I also really like the evolving relationship between Cassandra and Gabriel Stewart, and Cassandra and Roan Taranis. The first is a level-headed, experienced homicide detective who accepts that there is more to the world than most people realize (kudos to the authors for working in some Jewish mythology). The second is a ruthless fae who sees Cassandra as a means to an end, but who can’t stop his attraction to her or his growing respect for her. I’m curious to see how the romance element develops over the course of the series.

(Oddly enough, Agent of Enchantment is described as a “new adult” fantasy. That usually means young protagonists in their very late teens or very early twenties. I did not get that impression about Cassandra. Based on her emotional maturity and status in her profession, I pegged her at very late twenties, edging towards thirty.)

Agent of Enchantment is a terrific start to an intriguing urban fantasy series. Recommended to fans of Morgan Daimler’s Between the Worlds stories, Rhys Ford’s Dim Sum Asylum, The Witches of Portland by T. Thorn Coyle, and the Warlock’s Guide to Medicine series by S.A. Magnusson.