Kate's Reviews > Maggie for Hire

Maggie for Hire by Kate Danley
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's review
Feb 21, 12

bookshelves: fantasy, urban-fantasy, vampires
Read in February, 2012

Four stars for originality of premise, two and a half for execution, an average of three.

The premise of this book was sincerely promising - Maggie McKay is a "magical tracker," a sort of bounty hunter between worlds, wherein supernatural or fantastical creatures are relegated to Other Side but can sometimes cross to Earth to make trouble. Maggie's father was gifted as a "world walker," who could open natural portals that allowed creatures to cross freely, instead of at tightly regulated and controlled official portals; she's inherited a good bit of his talent, plus some mystical sight from her human seer mother.

When we meet up with Maggie, it's instant action - she's being pummeled by a vampire and is quickly rescued by an elf, who demands a favour in return. This favour ends up being agreeing to help him save the world(s) from an unknown threat that's trying to break down the boundaries in between them.

Okay, awesome. All well and good. We've got kind of a Stephanie Plum meets vampires vibe going on, and that's rad.

Unfortunately, the writing sort of lets down the side. Some of the slang is grating - "hellz," for instance, annoyed the bejeezus out of me - but I can work around that, since the author was obviously going for a breezy, lighthearted feel and a comfortable tone. The real problem was slipping between tenses - especially at the beginning, there's some back and forth between past tense and present that got irritating - and the fact that the tone was TOO breezy. More time spent giving the characters individual voices and less focused on creating cute slang would've done worlds to get me to identify more with the characters.

The biggest issue, though, was the relationship between Maggie and Killian. The rest of the plot moves along at a fair clip, with some interesting red herrings and Big Worldshaking Developments coming along to startle Our Heroine. The relationship subplot, however, is thin and forced...and really detracts from the novel. At first, it seems as though it's being set up as "lust at first sight." Then, suddenly, Maggie is hostile towards Killian. Then he's putting his hands all over her and making breakfast. Then they're just work partners. Then everyone - including both Maggie's mother and a priest?! - is insinuating that they NEED to sleep together. In the middle of all this, they're...not really developing much chemistry, or even consistent chemistry. They keep going back and forth between grumbling at each other and flirting, with no real relationship dynamic developing beyond "there must be a hot foil for the female action star." Killian, honestly, could be replaced by just about anyone - a girl, a non-elf male, a talking monkey - who's also just there to save the heroine from time to time and provide a touch of repartee. Deleting him, or at least giving him a personality, would've improved the story mightily. I wanted to know more about MAGGIE, not about the hot elf tagging along with her, which is what others wanted to discuss in the course of the story. It truly felt as though the author knew that urban fantasy, these days, is really more like "paranormal romance" in many cases, and that it just doesn't sell without a sexy love interest...and so one got tacked right in.

The world is interesting enough that I'll be keeping an eye out for the sequel, and hoping that we get more of Maggie and her family, and less of the grafted-on not-really-romance plot. The author's got talent, and hopefully the direction will work itself out with practice....
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