Title: Guild of Tokens (NYC Questing Guild Book One)
Publisher: ARC World Publishing
Author: Jon Auerbach
Pages: 422pp
Price: $24.99 / $4.99

Jen Jacobs is bored. Her job as a programmer with a new game start-up is stressful and unfulfilling. Her friends treat her like a hanger-on. Her boyfriend is out of the country so often that their dates are usually online. And then an offer appears in her email: a quest with the Guild of Tokens. Curious, but expecting that the whole thing is a scam, Jen soon discovers the amazing, awful truth: magic is real. The quests are a cover for locating, tracking, and even stealing magical artifacts and the few remaining sources of pure magic. But the Guild is greedy, and doesn’t share. If Jen is going to learn the real truth, the whole truth, about history and magic and how the world really works — well, she’ll need information and allies. But who can she trust? And just how far is she willing to go?

I discovered Guild of Tokens through a kickstarter campaign. The seven chapter sample was enough to convince me to back the kickstarter, and I happily downloaded and devoured the first book as soon as it was ready.

Guild of Tokens is that rare urban fantasy that kept surprising me. I thought I knew where it was going and, each time, the story would dodge suddenly and take me down a completely unexpected path. I wasn’t sure what to make of Beatrice. Enemy? Convenient ally? What was her reason for latching onto Jen, and what does she want? What about young Polly, raised in the world of magic, but forced to standby and watch as her father slowly dies of a magical wound? And what about Jen’s boyfriend Duncan? And the mysterious Guild assassin/fixer, Gilbert?

The magic system in Guild of Tokens is also fun, flashy, and unique. Spells are powered by prima materia, the stuff of magic itself. But sources are rare, forcing practitioners to scrape bits and pieces together. Rats, for example, are an excellent source of magical supplies. Apples grown in a particular orchard can grant temporary telepathy. Tattoos can be drawn with ink that shifts and changes moment to moment. Written spells can force the reader to do anything — even drop dead.

There were a few random typos scattered through the text, but not enough to spoil my enjoyment of the story.

Overall, I quite enjoyed Guild of Tokens. I’m glad that I backed the kickstarter, and I look forward to reading the second book when it is released. I want to know more about the Guild itself, and I want to see what Jen does when she uncovers its deepest secrets.

[Reviewed by Rebecca Buchanan.]

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