Author(s): Jennifer Harlow
Genre(s): Fantasy, Paranormal
Publisher/Date: Midnight Ink Books / October 8, 2011
Series: A F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad Investigation (Book #1)
"The most engaging detectives to face the walking dead since Scully and Mulder. Part urban fantasy, part police procedural, and entirely marvelous, monstrous fun." – Library Journal
Case StudyBeatrice Alexander isn’t your average school teacher—she’s able to move things with her mind, albeit not very well. After a series of hazardous accidents, one nearly killing her brother, she’s offered a job at the FBI. Only it’s not quite the FBI you and I know—think more like Men in Black than The Siege. Beatrice joins a special unit known as the Federal Response to Extra-Sensory and Kindred Supernaturals aka the “F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad where she will learn to master her psychokinetic abilities and combat both men and monsters alike. Her first case involves desecrated human remains, a necromancer and volatile army of the undead. With partners like a sexy former-policeman werewolf and an ego-maniacal Don Juan vamp, what could possibly go wrong?
The Game's AfootOkay, when it comes to the paranormal stuff I’m a total sucker. I just can’t get enough of it! Suffice it to say, when I read the summary I knew I was in for a treat. This is the debut for Jennifer Harlow, and man, she really nailed it! Using cheeky humour paired with drama and suspense, Harlow has found a winning combination especially when contrasted against the darker nature of the urban fantasy genre. I found myself completely engrossed in the story (mind you, I love anything that has zombies in it!) and even more enthralled by the diverse cast of characters. If you’re not into horror have no fear because Harlow expertly pars down on the gore by adding in a humorous narrative and compelling protagonist. And as much as I loved this book, I felt like it took a few chapters for Harlow to really hone in on Bea’s voice. It was sort of a trial by error which is altogether not uncommon for an author’s first book. But once she found it she really rocked it out.
As much as I loved the premise of the story, I loved the cast of characters even more. The F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad is full of all-stars! There’s a variety of personas, each one distinctly unique and ultimately loveable. Beatrice is an old-Hollywood loving, sensible yet sarcastic girl who struggles with fitting in. She’s someone who has an infallible sense of dedication despite being shunned by the people close to her. But the best thing about her is her hilarious wit! It’s easy to see why she’s so likeable. This is someone I totally want to be friends with. Then there’s Will, the gruff and tough (and super hot) werewolf. A former police-officer and defacto leader of the team, he’s as old-fashioned as they come. Bea, of course, is lusting all over the place for guy and it seems she’s caught his eye as well. And to add to the invariable love triangle there’s Oliver, the smooth-talking, second-in-charge vamp man. Arrogant and egotistical as he may be, Bea manages to lure out the softer side of the guy and he instant turns from seriously gag-worthy to swoon-worthy in all of five seconds flat! Round it out with an amazing list of paranormal side-kicks—a gothic teleporter teen, sexy pyromaniac, blind medium and shy auror—and we’ve found ourselves a kick-ass paranormal Ghostbusters, of sorts.
Harlow has written a comical yet touching story injected with mystery and intrigue. The characters are dynamic and the chemistry between our Bea and her two supernatural studs is electric. I found myself laughing out loud while reading it, smiling at the fun parts and completely engaged. I couldn’t put it down. And while Harlow does venture out into some grim territory, the story never strays too far into serious. Though she didn’t have me hooked at page one, it wasn’t long before the fangs sunk in and I was bitten by the F.R.E.A.K.S. bug. I’m so glad I had the foresight to purchase the sequel when I picked up book #1 so now I don’t have to wait to dive right back in!
Summary PrognosisMind Over Monsters is a fun and unconventional tale that stands out against others in the urban fantasy genre. Harlow uses clever witticisms and great characters to ground the otherwise horrific nature of the story. If you’re looking for something funny and easy to read with a lovable spook squad then this is the perfect series for you. What a stellar debut for Harlow! Currently devouring book #2 as we speak…
Read It: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Discuss It: Goodreads | Author's Website