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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Review: Mob Rules

Mob Rules (Luna Books)Title: Mob Rules
Author: Cameron Haley
Page Count: 312 pages (digital galley)
Publisher: Luna
Genre: urban fantasy
Copy for review obtained via NetGalley in anticipation of an honest review

50 words or less: Dominica "Domino" Riley is trying to make it as a sorceress and a lieutenant to the boss in a magic based gang in LA, avoid a gang war, keep the peace, and stay true to herself.  What have you done today?

Have you ever had a book sit in your review pile for what seems like forever, and then randomly one day you start reading and it grabs you by the eyeballs and just refuses to let go?  That essentially sums up what happened to me with Mob Rules, the first book in the Underworld Cycle.  I figured it would be a fun urban fantasy story by an author I hadn't read before (which makes sense, since I found out upon further research that this is a DEBUT NOVEL, which only adds to my awe) but I wasn't expecting the engrossing, highly enjoyable story that I found.  I love surprises like this!

I want to preface the rest of this review with a statement that hopefully everyone will take to heart: This is Not a Paranormal Romance.  I understand completely that it is published by an imprint of Harlequin and that that might lead some to get the wrong idea, so I'll go on record here as saying that this is urban fantasy, through and through. Domino is a gangster and she spends a good portion of the book doing gangster things; she has the moral compass one might expect from a lieutenant in a street gang.

All is not quiet on the streets of LA.  Low level members of the organization Domino belongs to are getting ugly dead and squeezed for their juice; their magical mojo, so to speak.  Domino is charged by the boss to figure out who's doing it and to administer appropriate justice; it becomes immediately clear that this is not going to be an easy task.  Add in the fact that she's falling hard for her boss's son and Domino finds herself in quite a pickle indeed.

Easily my favorite part of this novel was the way that the urban setting and the supernatural elements were blended together and tied so closely that you couldn't see where one ended and one began.  I loved how all of Domino's spells were rooted in quotations, instead of made up words or a more fantasy-style presentation.  The subtle emphasis on how central Domino's skills as a sorceress were to her identity made the conflicts in the book seem believable and real.  This is a story of one woman kicking ass and taking names because it's the only thing she truly feels competent doing; this is not the story of someone waiting to be rescued from life or bemoaning the circumstances in which she finds herself.

The true depth and nature of the conflict behind the murders is surprising; I enjoyed the twists and depths that were added to the story, even though I admit they fully became clear at a pretty late stage in the game.  It definitely made me look forward to the next book in the series, which according to Amazon will be released on April 19th!

If you're looking for an excellent debut urban fantasy novel that isn't afraid to be as bad as it wants to be and doesn't care if it hurts people's feelings, then I highly recommend Mob Rules.

Overall Grade: A
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