The Spokane Ecology Board covers up supernatural incidents, under the pretence of enforcing environmental laws. It's a dull job of sightseeing thunderbirds and pixie outbreaks. Until the team gets murdered.
Ari is the replacement team's Bigfoot liaison. Armed with everything she's learned from detective shows, she's ready to find the murderer. The downside is the job comes with a human partner, who smells of air freshener and lines up his desk like a math project. He's only a scientist, so it's not like he knows anything about magical crimes.
Ben Cabot grew up hearing stories about Bigfoot, but they failed to mention a love of the internet or an aversion to throwing wrappers away. But there's more out of place than an untidy work partner. Someone's messed with the case files, and that means the killer might be closer than they think.
This was so much fun. I have already waited too long to properly review, but here is the gist of it:
Both the main characters are incredibly interesting and three-dimensional. Ben, a queer Native who loves his life orderly and clean, who thinks long before he speaks. Ari, the sweets-loving Bigfoot who tells it like it is. And now they're cop buddies after the previous "Ecology Board" team was murdered. It's hilarious, touching, and entertaining from start to finish.
Bonus points, Ben is a chemist. Every time it came up I made happy faces. :D
SUNSTRUCK is a wonderful mix between cozy mysteries and urban fantasy, with incredible thoughtfulness put into every character, from personality to culture to background and interaction with others. There's a richness to the Spokane painted by Polenth Blake that is hard to define. I loved this story and its universe. Pick this up, seriously.
Ben is the new member of the Spokane Ecology Board, after his predecessor was murdered. Of course, it isn’t generally known what the full nature of the job entails – policing and investigating problems with the supernatural community of Spokane. A community Ben never knew about before – and certainly isn’t a part of.
It comes with a partner – Ari. A Bigfoot. She’s hoping this job will earn her some respect from the Bigfoot colony that has made her an outcast – she doesn’t have a great deal of experience with humans. Her predecessor has also been murdered
Both of them face something of a learning curve. But they have to learn fast – whoever killed the people before them may be targeting them next and, with the evidence heavily tampered with, the perpetrator may be one of the few people they need to trust.
Given that, Thunderbirds having a temper tantrum in town seems quite minor.
This is a neat murder mystery – it’s a story with lots of interesting little twists and tangents that unfold as the book progresses at an excellent pace. It has a few nifty red herrings that are thrown in with skill and aplomb, we have some action that’s in keeping with the characters. It’s a good plot and it has some points I really appreciated – like the action scenes not being one-on-one fights (because why going into such equal battles?) and the enemy not being so simplistic as is common place.
But the story is a far better vehicle for the world and the characters
The characters are excellent – Ari and Ben bounce off each other, flounder together, annoy each other, try not to annoy each other, fail to understand each other but keep bouncing back and coming together again trying to decide whether to sit down and figure out what happened or to Not Talk About It. They have pasts and experiences and fully realised characters that I just want to burrow through
If it weren’t for the world, the characters would be the best thing about this book. But the world, with the different supernatural groups, hefty amounts of Native American tradition, entirely newly created lore in places sprinkled with politics, tensions and strong connections to themes of colonisation – is even better.
There was a lot of Native American tradition and beliefs in this book and even without the bibliography at the end you can tell that there has been some research gone into them which is always great to see and helped contribute to the richness of this world (along with the development of the Bigfoots mentioned below). The combination and blending of well researched actual tradition and beliefs with really well founded and well made fictional worlds made for a very strong setting
I also like that Blue Jay was used. If you make a pile of Urban Fantasy books containing Native American traditions you’re probably going to run into a gazillion Coyotes, half a gazillion Ravens (and innumerable Skinwalkers and Wendigo – ALWAYS THE WENDIGO!) but this is the first Blue Jay.
I loved the world building of the different mystical creatures, in particular the Bigfoots, because there has been world building. Not just “big people with fur” but a fully developed separate species – they have their own biological differences, their own culture, their own faith, their own different families and ways of living and society and prejudices. These can be big things like the whole explanation of how Bigfoot families are structured or the problems Ari faces as a Sunstruck, but also little things like the Bigfoot needing the chew things to wear down their teeth because modern human food they largely eat is too soft. A huge amount of effort has been put into making the Bigfoots a fully developed people with all the positives and the negatives that that implies (one of my favourite elements is the way they speak English, the accent they preserve because it’s a marker of the people who bothered to teach them).
We at The Review Hart would like to disclose that we received this book for free in return for an honest review
This is a book for those who want a light and interesting fantasy that sits outside of the usual lexicon of fantasy creatures. There isn’t a vampire or werewolf in sight in this book; instead, the main character of this book is a Bigfoot. That makes this book refreshing and gives it a chance to really stand out. The author has given a lot of thought to the character development, particularly of the Bigfoot and how Bigfoot culture affects the protagonist. The entire story is quite well executed, if a touch rushed in places. The tone fits the characters and overall arc, and the story is complete, meaning that there isn’t an unsatisfying cliff-hanger at the end. The world and characters are different and have enough left to say and be explored that there’s plenty of room to provide multiple future stories and further expansion. This is a book which many fantasy readers will thoroughly enjoy, and I’d recommend trying the rest of the series.
Ari Smith was just hired as the Bigfoot liaison by the Spokane Ecology Board along with Ben Cabot, local Native American from the Spokane Indian Reservation. They were replacing the previous team that had just got themselves murdered. This is an unusual fantasy story that once it got going was very fast paced and complex with so many twists and turns I could not for the life of me figure out who done it. I was so sure that the elusive Detective Anders was up to his eyeballs in the killings that when the end came I was flabbergasted. After I got use to the writing style and the Bigfoot English, I really started feeling the story line which was very developed and detailed with a very interesting cast of characters. This is the first time that I have read this author but now that I have found her, I'll be reading more. What I like best about this story was the connection to the Spokane Native Americans and the stories told to the children as they grew up about the world of Bigfoot, Blue Jays, Mud people plus other mystical beings and their relationship to the Indians. The author included some interesting information in the book relating to the reservation and the surrounding area, including the link to the Spokane tribe, that I thoughly enjoyed.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
I really enjoyed this book. It's a paranormal story, a cop buddy story, and a mystery story all rolled into one but somehow it's also more than any of these. The author has taken the legend of Bigfoot (which I would never have guessed could be interesting) and created a culture that that I found intriguing and convincing. It read to me like good science fiction where we see ourselves through the eyes (and in this case nose) of an alien, even though in this case it's a terrestrial alien.
I liked the really quirky characters a lot and I enjoyed the exchanges between Ari (the Bigfoot) and her OCD human partner Ben. There is a plot but for me this was the least important aspect of the book. I just thoroughly enjoyed stepping into Ari and Ben's world and I can't wait for the next book to come out so I can join them there again.
I really liked this book. Blake really brought the Bigfoot and the magical community of Spokane to life. My only complaint was it was a little slow moving in places. I'd definitely check out the further adventures of unlikely partners Ari & Ben.