Owl and the Electric Samurai by Kristi Charish (The Adventures of Owl #3)
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Action Adventure
Publisher: Simon & Schuster May 8, 2017
My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.
The third exciting novel starring the unforgettable antiquities thief Owl—a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world. View Spoiler »From the pen of rising urban fantasy star Kristi Charish (Owl and the Japanese Circus) and for fans of Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, Jennifer Estep, Jenn Bennett, and fantasy lovers everywhere.
The International Archaeology Association (IAA) is responsible for keeping all things supernatural under wraps. They’re also responsible for ruining the promising archaeology career of Alix Hiboux, better known as Owl.
Needless to say, Owl’s still a little sore about that.
Just to keep Owl’s life lively, the IAA has opened a bounty on the two designers of World Quest, the online RPG that is much, much more than it seems. Owl needs to locate the notorious gaming duo before the other mercenaries do. But finding the gamers won’t be easy since every clue points to them hiding out in the legendary lost city of Shangri-La. Not to mention that the last time Owl and the game designers spoke, their conversation didn’t exactly end on the best note…
Meanwhile, undercurrents of supernatural politics are running amok in Tokyo, dragging Owl and her friends into a deadly game of wits with an opponent who calls himself the Electric Samurai. The cost of losing? All-out civil war between two powerful supernatural factions.
All in all, just another great day on the job. « Hide Spoiler
Everyone’s favourite snarky, disaster-prone archaeologist-turned-thief is back with a vengeance in OWL AND THE ELECTRIC SAMURAI, the third Owl adventure. Although it wasn’t my favourite instalment in the series, this book is a definite game-changer that delivers much needed answers about the forces working against Alix, Rynn, and Nadia.
Alix Hiboux, better known as infamous antiquities thief Owl, has been through a lot in the past few months – and it shows. Sure, she’s still as pigheaded an argumentative as she ever was, but Alix is also clearly more aware of how her actions impact the people around her…and she’s learned firsthand about the consequences of getting in the middle of supernatural business. As the stakes become higher and higher, Alix is forced to take her work more seriously. Her current job? Locating a magical suit of armour nicknamed the Electric Samurai for a shady third party. But what exactly do they want with the ancient weapon? And what does the fabled land of Shangri La have to do with it?
OWL AND THE ELECTRIC SAMURAI marks a major shift in the overall tone of the series, as the narration becomes decidedly less playful. Plagued by paranoia and constantly questioning the motivations of those around her, Alix is barely one step ahead of the International Archaeology Association (IAA), the elves, and the vampires. The plot is tighter and more focused than the previous books in the series, which is a point in its favour. Fans of action adventure stories will find a lot to love here, I think. But there’s also less of the fun and funny rapport between Alix and her friends that I consider a hallmark of the series and I found myself missing it quite a lot. It didn’t help that Nadia was separated from the group for the entire story and is only present in phone calls and emails.
While I wasn’t a huge fan of the change in tone, there’s one thing in this series that certainly has changed for the better: Alix herself. Her character development has been slow and sometimes painful, but that’s just made the results that much sweeter. In OWL AND THE ELECTRIC SAMURAI, Alix is more open with her boyfriend Rynn, more trusting of her friends, and more forgiving of her former enemies. This is good character growth, people! If only Rynn would loosen up and follow suit. Was anyone else bothered by his preachy, holier-than-thou attitude? Dude needs to unclench, just saying.
As always, Owl and co. adventure to all sorts of locales known for their ancient artifacts and we get to learn a lot about the various supernatural types in Tibet and Nepal on the hunt for the Electric Samurai. Elven culture, vampire politics, and a potential looming supernatural conflict are all expanded upon, and the goals of the IAA are finally a bit clearer. We also get a number of great scenes with Lady Siyu, Alix’s Naga nemesis and my personal favourite supporting character. All of these reveals play a role in the climax of the story, and will clearly continue to effect the gang in the coming books. Buckle in, folks – it’s gonna be a wild ride.
Darker and more serious than its predecessors, OWL AND THE ELECTRIC SAMURAI isn’t my favourite instalment in the series, but it does up the ante for our unlikely heroine and her friends. Be prepared for a major cliffhanger, and expect to eagerly anticipate the fourth volume. I know that I am!