The Grendel Affair is a sort of hybrid police procedural/governmental sort of book with a quirky main character who is easy to laugh with (and at), but also easy to sympathize with. Makenna is one of those characters that will probably seem rather cookie-cutter, and she is in many ways, but she’s endearing despite that. She has a quip for just about everything. She seems to have a knack for getting herself into ridiculous and unpredictable situations, and she’s also very pretty. It’s all the things that most authors write into their urban fantasy characters, but despite all of that, she’s a lot of fun, and most importantly, she makes mistakes, and those mistakes often propel the plot.
Supernatural Protection & Investigation is one of those super-secret agencies that is out to police all of the nasties that the humans can’t know about. Again, that is fairly cookie-cutter. I’ve read a lot (a lot) of books involving an organization of that nature before. However, Shearin does a great job at really fleshing out how the organization is run, and the power struggles that are involved in it. There is a distinct chain of command, and it is nice to see that Shearin’s characters don’t just have free reign. Instead, Makenna and her cohorts have to function within both social and organizational boundaries. This might seem like a weird thing for me to point out, but it is nice to see these small details which make The Grendel Affair feel so much more realistic.
The supernatural creatures are both fairly typical and rather unique and entertaining at the same time. For example, how many books have you read where one of the characters is an actual dragon hidden behind a human mask (of sorts)? It’s entertaining, but aside from that, there are the all of the creatures you’d expect, like vampires and werewolves and etc. While they don’t dominate the readers time, they are there, and I was kind of let down by how typical they felt.
The plot moves forward at a rapid pace, often skipping from one chaotic incident to the next with very little time in-between. In fact, I ran into the same problem with The Grendel Affair that I often run into with my urban fantasy. For the life of me, I can’t figure out how these people pack so much activity into one day. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a trend I tend to notice with a lot of the urban fantasy books that have plenty of mystery and action. However, this also means that The Grendel Affair pulls you in almost instantly and doesn’t let go until you read the last word. Shearin has a knack for really absorbing her readers in her book.
While The Grendel Affair is tons of fun, it’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect from an urban fantasy novel. Our protagonist has a knack for finding herself in trouble. There’s alluded-to sexual tension. There’s plenty of action and a mystery that only Makenna can solve. It’s all stuff that I’ve seen before, but it’s very well done. It’s a load of fun and the fast pace is just right.
I almost hate saying that a book is popcorn, because so many people think that’s a bad thing. The truth is, it really isn’t a bad thing. Not every book I read needs to be some challenging novelty that redefines the way I look at literature. Sometimes I want to sit back, crack open a quick, fun, lighter read, and just enjoy myself. In times like that, The Grendel Affair is the perfect medicine. I look forward to seeing where Shearin takes this series next.