fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsurban fantasy book reviews Kasey MacKenzie Shades of Fury 1. Red Hot FuryRed Hot Fury by Kasey MacKenzie

Look out, paranormal baddies; Marissa Holloway is on the job. Riss is a Fury, and her mission is to fight supernatural crime. Kasey MacKenzie bases her Furies on the ones from Greek mythology, but with a twist. In myth, there were three Furies: Alecto, Tisiphone, and Megaera. Here, these names represent not individual Furies, but classes of Furies. Riss is a Tisiphone. This means she wears red and deals mainly with homicides.

(Unfortunately, MacKenzie doesn’t do as much with this concept as one might hope. We don’t learn much about the Alecto and Megaera Furies beyond the colors they wear. This may be elaborated upon in later books.)

As Red Hot Fury begins, Riss is called to a murder scene. The body is that of a Fury, specifically Riss’s best friend Vanessa. Yet something is fishy about the crime. Vanessa’s body doesn’t seem quite right magically speaking, and besides, Riss thought Vanessa died several years ago at the hands of a jealous ex. As Riss investigates the case, she uncovers a sinister conspiracy, and learns that almost every conclusion she jumped to in the past was wrong.

The plot of Red Hot Fury is fast and, well, furious. MacKenzie keeps the excitement at a high level throughout most of the book, and combines the action with a compelling romance between two characters who royally screwed up their relationship years ago but now have a second chance to work things out.

At times, though, the plot moves too quickly. Several times, MacKenzie skims over scenes, rather than using them to their fullest potential. At one point, Scott drops an emotional bombshell on Marissa. Do they kiss? Does she stomp off? Do they just stare awkwardly at each other for a few minutes? We don’t know, because the chapter ends there, and as the next chapter begins, the characters are doing something completely different. Later, a tenuous group of allies prepare to make a blood oath to each other. What is the ritual like? How is the oath worded; are there loopholes? Who is enthusiastic? Who is reluctant? Who acts shifty? Again, we don’t know; in the next paragraph it’s a done deal.

There are other problematic elements, including a few instances of infodump-by-dialogue, and the weps. Riss refers to weapons as “weps.” This would be fine once or twice, but the term is used so often that it becomes distracting. You know how if you stare at a word too long, it loses its meaning and you just end up thinking about what a funny-looking word it is? I don’t think it would have been nearly as bothersome if she’d just used weapons or guns or knives. The reader’s brain would process the familiar words and move along. It’s like using overly vivid dialogue tags instead of “said.” “Said” is unobtrusive, but if everyone is exclaiming or snarling or hissing their words, it throws the reader out of the story. So it is with the weps.

However, the idea of a Fury-based urban fantasy is original enough, and the story entertaining enough despite its flaws, that I plan to continue with the Shades of Fury series. It has a lot of potential; it just needs some ironing out.

Shades of Fury — (2010-2011) Publisher: Hell hath nothing worse than a Fury scorned… As a Fury, Marissa Holloway belongs to an Arcane race that has avenged wrongdoing since time immemorial. As Boston’s Chief Magical Investigator for the past five years, she’s doing what she was born to: solving supernatural crimes. It’s far from business as usual when the body of one of Riss’s sister Furies washes up in Boston harbor. Riss discovers that the corpse’s identity has been magically altered, but as soon as she reports her findings, she’s immediately — and inexplicably — suspended from her job. Then a human assassin makes an attempt on her life, and Riss starts to realize that someone may be trying to stir up strife between mortals and Arcanes. When a Fury gets mad, she gets even, and Riss is determined to untangle this case. Without the support of the mortal PD, Riss turns to the one man she can trust to watch her back — shapeshifting Warhound Scott Murphy. But since Scott is also Riss’s ex, she’ll have to keep a tight leash on more than just the supernatural rage that feeds her power as they try to solve a murder — and stop a war…

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