The Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin – Review

The Grendel Affair

Book Jacket:

When I moved to New York to become a world famous journalist, I never imagined that snagging a job at a seedy tabloid would change my career path from trashy reporter to undercover agent. I’m Makenna Fraser, a Seer for SPI. I can see through any disguise, shield, or spell that a paranormal pest can come up with. I track down creatures and my partner, Ian Byrne, takes them out – usually saving my skin in the process.

Our cases are generally pretty routine, but a sickle-wielding serial killer has been prowling the city’s subway tunnels. And the murderer’s not human. The fiend in question, a descendant of Grendel – yes, that Grendel – shares his ancestor’s hatred of parties, revelry, and drunkards. And with New Year’s Eve in Times Square only two days away, we need to bag him quickly. Because if we don’t find him – and the organization behind him – by midnight, our secret’s out and everyone’s time is up.

You can read an excerpt here.


Light, bouncy, and just fun to read, this book is the perfect antidote for doom and gloom.

No matter how familiar it may be, I always can appreciate a trope done well – and while this book certainly covers well-trod territory (the secret world within our own, and the law enforcement agency that holds the line, stopping the monsters and protecting the ordinary), Shearin brings enough color and personality to the table to make it all fun and lively again. I really was just effortlessly entertained by this book, from the introduction to the world to the interplay between the team – I loved how patently unimpressed Ian was with his rookie partner (Mac), and how Mac’s other co-workers just so happen to be a Japanese elf (or half-Japanese, half-Elf – Mac hasn’t quite gotten around to asking), a Russian werewolf, a human who bears a striking resemblance to a tank, and a dragon (who’s the boss, naturally) – but it’s Shearin’s dry sense of humor and keen sense of the ridiculous that truly make this story, imbuing everything – from Mac’s dry commentary, often at her own expense, to the unglamorous shenanigans that often ensue, like naked leprechauns and a tractor chase – with sheer fun. And in the meantime, the plot moves along quickly with plenty of action, the monsters are monstrous, the danger felt real, and I really, really liked how Mac was kind of like a translator embedded in a combat unit on the front line – totally unprepared, but entirely invaluable to the goings on.

Which brings me to my favorite thing about this book, which is how Mac is genuinely a rookie, someone who might not know what she’s doing, but still is never overtly stupid. And can I just tell you how much I LOVED that – I loved reading about a heroine who wasn’t some assassin ninja, or crazy-scary magic wielder, or otherwise trained-from-the-age-of-six badass, for a change (and by the way, Mac wears jeans, not leather). No, Mac is just kind of like a seeing-eye dog in terms of magical mayhem, with no battle experience whatsoever – and so when the shit hits the fan, she reacts in refreshingly honest and imperfect ways. She screams like a girl, and then makes fun of herself for it – she gets scared and yes, even makes mistakes, but STILL shows initiative and does smart, spunky. and occasionally embarrassing things – and WOW did I love everything about that imperfection, that learn-as-you-go kind of reality for a heroine who is capable but not perfect; able, but not a superhero. It was just really, really fun having an inexperienced scrapper to root for.

Really the only thing I can say against this book is that I think it might have softened the relationship between Ian and Mac a bit too much towards the end. I really liked the gruffness, the low level of antagonism, that was the status quo for them at the beginning – it made for a fun dynamic – but by the end, it just kind of felt like maybe they’d hugged it out (figuratively) a bit too much. It became a bit too easy, a bit too comfortable between them – though I grant you, they’d certainly been through enough to bond – such that I rather find myself hoping it’s not all smooth sailing from here on out, because I was having a lot of fun watching them rub each other the wrong way.

But in the end, I’ll say it again – this book is just FUN, with a delightfully offbeat, slightly ridiculous way about it (think Seanan McGuire’s Incryptid series, and you’ll get the idea). And it’s that sense of humor that keeps this book bouncy and light, despite all the near-death, decapitation and otherwise grisly goings on – and I really, really loved that level of brightness, a rare thing in this grimdark day and age. To put it simply, The Grendel Affair is Urban Fantasy fun – which as it turns out, is exactly what I needed. So here’s looking forward to book two!

Byrt Grade: A-

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

Fiction Vixen says:

One of the strongest parts of this book is the humor. It is deadpan and had me laughing out loud at strange times during the story. Just when a part would get tense or suspenseful one of the main characters would throw out a one liner or a completely inappropriate joke and I would lose it.

Smexy Books says:

Shearin’s newest release is a fun fast urban fantasy with a unique premise and engaging characters. While I wasn’t blown away by this one; my issues being with the  main character, I did enjoy the mystery and the world.