Dana reviews Incubus Honeymoon (Arcana Imperii Book 1) by August Li (Published by DSP Publications, July 17, 2018, 274 pages) A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
As the so-called magical creatures go, I’m low on the hierarchy, and my powers aren’t much good to human mages. I’m a lover, not a fighter, through and through. I’m also selfish, lazy, and easily bored. But I’m damned good at what I do.
Too bad that won’t get my arse out of this sling.
Do one—granted, uncharacteristic—good deed, and now I’m held hostage to an arrogant faerie prince, trying to track down the one who summoned him while dodging gangbangers, gun runners, and Nazis. Add the powerful mage guilds scrambling to gather firepower for some doomsday event they’re sure is around the corner, and my cushy life of leisure might be nothing but a memory. On top of that, something’s compelling me to change on my most fundamental level. I’m not sure what I’ve got myself mixed up in, but nothing will ever be the same.
Featuring a new twist on urban fantasy combined with fast-paced action and intrigue, the Arcana Imperii series books are standalone adventures, each completely accessible to new readers.
I don’t always mention the covers in a review, but I do want to say something about this cover. It’s beautiful! The drawing itself looks great, but the coloring with a mostly black and white scheme and just a splash of other really drew my eye.
There were things about this book that were fascinating and pulled me into the story but there were somethings that didn’t work for me as well. The beginning of this book is a little slow. It’s due to setting up a fairly elaborate world, no doubt, and that was fine with me. There are incubus, mages of several different guilds, fey, humans involved in gun running, neo-nazis, non-binary characters, asexual characters, kids, and lots of cats. There is a lot going on in what seems like the world we are used to, just many things humans are unaware of. There are also four points of view in this story and with no way to distinguish who is speaking at the start of a new chapter or after an extended spacing between paragraphs. After a few sentences, I could usually catch on, but didn’t always, which felt frustrating to me.
Inky and Blossom are two of the main characters, though those aren’t their names. In an attempt to annoy each other, they gave each other their nicknames. Inky is an incubus who isn’t very powerful besides feeding off the energy of those who find fulfillment with him. He doesn’t need to kill to feed either, which I like. I like my magical creatures to avoid being monstrous. He is a bit cheeky and sarcastic, and kind of streetwise. He’s a character I like, but… Blossom is the faerie that was summoned to this world by accident and he is standoffish and cold. The partnership between him and Inky to find the summoner isn’t a match made in heaven for sure. While I don’t need them to be best friends or romantic interests, Inky’s attitude was too antagonistic and his use of the words c*nt and twat so often began to wear on me.
Inky and Blossom aren’t the only characters to be considered main characters, I think. Dante is a human who works for an arms dealer in order to pay the bills and take care of his sister, since his mom has mostly checked out. He is one of the few humans or non-humans who doesn’t want Inky. His sister Rosalind, Ros, is special, though he doesn’t know how special until she is taken from him and a faerie and demon offer to help him find her. Raph is Dante’s boss and he has a POV but I don’t find him as important as the others. He is dragged into learning about the supernatural when neo-nazi’s working for a mage group come after his operation and he follows Dante, Inky, and Blossom around and sees more than he should. Rounding off the cast of characters are Emrys and Jet. Both are mages and in love with each other. Jet is non-binary and a technomage, while Emrys is a rogue mage. Like Dante, he is ace, and he helps Dante sort through some things. I love the diverse characters that the author included in the story.
Once the setup was, well, set up, the story did get very interesting. Finding Ros is the main goal, and finding out who took her is important. While they are at it, the group decides to strike at some of the mage groups who use their power in the most despicable ways. Things get just a little crazy and at the end, I’m not sure if they stirred up more trouble than it’s worth. Inky does do a little bit of changing as he realizes that he likes wanting something just for himself and not because someone else desires it. I feel like his character might continue to develop and maybe alter some of his ways as the series goes on. There was talk of something big coming and that all the mages were preparing in their own ways. I don’t feel like this issue was resolved and so even though the blurb says the stories can be stand alone, I was left feeling like something more was on the horizon. Something that will string the series together. I don’t know if I am right, but I do know that I want to read more of this series when the books release.
8/10 Pots of Gold (80% Recommended) – Compares to 4/5 Stars
August Li plays every game as a mage. He thinks the closest thing to magic outside of games and fantasy is to bring things into existence from nothing, which he does in words and images. As a proud trans man, he hopes to bring diversity and representation to all those who want to see themselves in the art and stories they enjoy. He’s a perfectionist, travel enthusiast, and caffeine addict.
Gus makes his home on the coast of South Carolina, where he spends his days in search of merpeople, friendly cats, and interesting pieces of driftwood. He collects ball-jointed dolls, tattoos, and languages. He believes in faeries and thinks they’re terrifying… but still wants to meet one.