Dark Currents: Agent of Hel by Jacqueline Carey
Publisher: Roc/Oct. 2nd, 2012
Agent of Hel series
Kind thanks to Roc for providing a review copy
Daisy Johanssen is the goddess Hel’s enforcer, in the tiny resort town of Pemkowet and consults with the Pemkowet Police Department on all things involving the eldritch community. The product of a human mother and a lesser demon/incubus father, Daisy has a knack for seeing through supernatural glamours and sensing when magic is near. She also has a tail (and a demonic birthright), but it’s a little one, and an occasional cat named Mogwai.
Pemkowet is a hotbed for paranormal denizens and actively encourages outsiders to come experience their supernatural oddities, but the darker side isn’t discussed quite so much, and that’s where Daisy comes in. When a college boy “accidentally” drowns in the river, Daisy is called to the scene to help. Most people would take it for drunken fun gone wrong, but the Chief knows better. The victim’s friends have mismatched stories, and it’s increasingly obvious to Daisy that something else is going on, and she’s determined to get to the bottom of things. It doesn’t help that she has to work alongside Cody Fairfax: cop, werewolf, player, and hottie that she’s nursed a crush on since they were kids and he defended her against bullies. With the reputation of the town at stake, Cody and Daisy must find out if the drowning was an accident or something more sinister, and fast.
Jacqueline Carey is known for her extremely popular Kushiel series and is already a seasoned author, so I was excited to see the first book of a new series promising supernatural hijinks in a small town. Dark Currents is told in Daisy’s voice and at first I thought it was going to be a relatively light urban fantasy filled with fairies, vamps, all things furry, quirky characters, and of course, plenty of magic. Well, it is, for a little while, then it gets rather dark, but this isn’t a bad thing. Mystery wise, the “accidental” drowning of an obnoxious college kid wasn’t enough to rev me up at first. Now, I have a feeling the author did this on purpose, because when the truth about the drowning actually comes out, it smacks you in the head and you most certainly take notice, and it’s not pretty. In fact, it’s very tragic, dark, and even pretty relevant to current world events. On the lighter side, Dark Currents has very much of an early Sookie Stackhouse feel to it and a highlight was when a Frost Giant picked Daisy up in his dune buggy to visit Hel under a huge tree called Yggdrasil II. Mustn’t forget to feed the guard dog (more like guard beast) while you’re at it!
Daisy is a tough girl, but she also struggles with the normal things that a single girl in her 20s does. Guys, friendships, not succumbing to the Seven Deadlies or accidently invoking her birthright which could cause Armageddon, her demonic father… Oh, well, I guess those aren’t normal girl things, but you get the picture. Plus our gal gets to carry a seriously ass kicking dagger and flirt with hot cop Cody and sexy biker ghoul Stefan. Speaking of ghouls: Jacqueline Carey’s ghouls come in the form of a motorcycle gang called the Outkasts and are not the rotting, shambling things you’re probably picturing. They feed off of human emotion, and her mythos for these creatures is complex and fascinating. It was one of my favorite elements of the story (especially Stefan, but I digress…) Mythology, all forms of supernatural creatures, small town life, mysticism, and magic all intertwine wonderfully in this rich, charming, and yes, at times very dark, urban fantasy. You’ll fall in love with Daisy, and her supporting cast, and you’ll most definitely want to come back for more. Can’t wait for the next one!