Title: Hypnos (Seeking the Zodiacs Book One)
Author/Publisher: RJ Blain
Pages: 276pp
Price: $9.99 / $5.99

World War III is over. In its wake, all nuclear devices have been banned, with any remaining bombs detonated in the wastes of Australia. In its wake, magic has returned to the world …. Olivia Abrams is an FBI quad supervisor. A powerful water elemental who gained her powers at the same moment that New York City was obliterated, Olivia has dedicated herself to protecting the people of San Francisco from magical terrorism. …. A fish god is floating loose in people’s dreams, the koppa oni in the bay are distraught and under attack, the kraken is beginning to stir, and Olivia’s parents have just presented her with a pair of pet ducks. And did I mention the warlock? And the very sexy, very smart Detective Davis? Maybe someday Olivia will find the time to sleep. But it won’t be today ….

RJ Blain is one of my favorite urban fantasy/paranormal writers, and Hypnos is a terrific example as to why. It’s smart, fast-paced, exciting, and laugh out loud funny. The dialogue crackles and pops. The relationships between the characters are equal parts snark, teasing, and hugs. And when they are not laughing, they are dealing with the serious trauma of violent crime and survivor’s guilt; heavy subjects that are handled with compassion and understanding.

I also really like the evolving relationship between Olivia and Detective Davis. Most other authors would have dumped the characters into bed right away. Not Blain. They’re in the middle of a critical investigation and on a serious time crunch. So they flirt outrageously, share pizza, match wits, and schedule their mutual seduction time for after the crisis is averted. And Davis — bless him — has absolutely no problem recognizing Olivia’s strength and intelligence, following her lead when the investigation calls for it, and pushing her to rest and eat when she needs it (the man even brushes and braids her hair at one point).

The world of Hypnos is a wild smorgasbord of myths and folklore and magic. Olivia’s boss is a dragon. The federal quads she oversees are composed of drainers (they need fresh blood to live), empaths (can sense emotions and thoughts), memento moris (photographers who can force spirits to move on), air and fire elementalists, and many others. Nature preserves are set up to help koppa oni and other supernatural beings when they become injured or otherwise need help. Warlocks are super-charged madmen, and the most dangerous foes an FBI quad will ever face.

Hypnos is an exciting, intelligent, flirtatious urban fantasy. I loved the ride, and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series. Highly recommended to fans of The Gunderson Case Files by Blaze Ward, the Razor’s Edge series by Celine Jeanjean, Love Bites by Cynthia St. Aubin, the Lily Singer series by Lydia Sherrer, and The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Magic by Helen Harper.

[Reviewed by Rebecca Buchanan.]

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