Monday, 4 March 2013


Camden, North London.
A tangled, mangled junction of train lines, roads and waterways.  Where minor celebrities hang out with minor criminals and where tourists and moody teenagers mingle.
In the heart of Camden, where rail meets road meets leyline, you'll find the Arcana Emporium, run by one Alex Verus.  He won't sell you a wand or mix you a potion, but if you know what you're looking for, he might just be able to help.  That's if he's not too busy avoiding his would-be apprentice, foiling the Dark, outwitting the Light and investigating a mysterious relic that's just turned up at the British Museum.
Benedict Jacka's first novel in the Alex Verus series is marketed as a cross between Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London and Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files.  While for me Fated wasn't hate at first read, it wasn't a book I'd be raving down the street about either. 

Fated has an interesting plot, involving the British Museum, but it doesn't have the sense of place that the Rivers of London series has, and it doesn't have the wit of Jim Butcher.  There is also the problem that there are too many similarities to my favourite fictional Chicago native (even if Jacka does give that wink at the beginning that Verus exists in the same universe as Harry. Maybe there could be a cross-over book collaboration between Jacka and Butcher in the future?).  However, this is only the first book.  As the series continues, I hope that  Benedict will brake away from the Dresden comparisons and find a niche for his characters.

Another problem with Fated is that there is too much telling and not enough showing in the first half of the book.  There's so much that the reader needs to know about Alex's world, it did feel like I was the apprentice being lectured.  I was pleased that the final act seemed to have found a good balance between action and information, making me realise that this series may be worth sticking with. 

The characters already have clear personalities, but not ones that I'm totally in awe of.  Due to all the telling, Alex has a teachers tone that makes him sound a lot older than his years and a little bit too serious for my taste. Then there's Luna, who I wish had a bit more of a backbone.  Although Jacka does hint that there's more to Luna than he's letting the reader privy to.  Therefore, it will be interesting to see how he expands not only her character, but her mythology, throughout the series.

I've got the second book Cursed and I've read other reviews saying that the series does improve, so I'm sticking with Verus for now.  

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