These are Kindle Unlimited books, and OMG what a pleasant surprise. I’ll admit I’ve been missing Kim Harrison and her urban fantasy Hollows series, and sorta kinda on the hunt for a new series to replace it since Kim has moved on from Rachel and Jinx and Ivy. Harmony Black came up on Kindle Unlimited a few months ago and when I finished The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie on the plane on the way home from Atlanta in August I just picked another Kindle book to start. Harmony Black seemed like a good read for the airplane, and it was. It totally was. I kept reading it when I got home. I read it in the car that night on the way to sushi. If we hadn’t been meeting friends I would have kept reading it during dinner, and I’ve only done that once since I stopped being a kid (it was when the last Harry Potter book came out, and we were eating at The Cheesecake Factory). Generally I’ve been underwhelmed by my Kindle Unlimited subscription, and I often wonder why I keep paying $9.99 a month for it. But every once in a while I hit upon a hidden gem like Craig Schaefer. He’s got another series that I need to delve into at some point (they’re all available on Kindle Unlimited, thank god), but this new series is enough to restore my faith in Amazon’s taste in books.
I’ll admit, Harmony Black and Red Knight Falling are not literature. They are not as amazing as The Hollows series. But the first two entries in this series are better than the first two of Kim Harrison’s books. I read the first two and enjoyed them enough to keep going, but was sort of embarrassed about it. Kim hit her stride with the third book. Craig Schaefer hits the ground running here. It’s probably because this is not his first series; perhaps his Daniel Faust series starts slow. I’ll find out one of these days. But where was I? Oh yes. I’m reviewing these books together because I read them sequentially and I’m so far behind in reviews that I needed to do something to get caught up. I can’t exactly combine my reviews of A God in Ruins and I Regret Nothing, can I?
Anyway. Harmony Black is a witch and FBI agent. In this urban fantasy series, witches and demons and whatnot are not “out of the closet/coffin/parallel dimension,” so it’s not a post-apocalyptic sort of urban fantasy like The Hollows. Harmony is a solo agent who gets hooked up with a team of agents (called Vigilant Lock) who quickly become her family. She is replacing a member of the team who was killed, but maybe she needed to go anyway. (She did. We met her in the next book.) None of the others are witches, but the team’s leader, Jessie, may have some demon in her. Her father worshipped a demon and did some terrible things to his daughter when she was young. The mystery to be solved in the first novel is a baby abduction thing: every thirty years in a small town in Michigan, six children disappear, and it’s started again. The personal interest thing is that thirty years ago one of the babies was Harmony’s little sister. And the kidnapper is a demon. Shenanigans ensue. This book was a perfect plane book: fast-paced, action-packed, all that good stuff. And, I even cared about the characters. Schaefer is good at mixing action and occult and character development. Needless to say, Harmony solves the case, saves the day, and makes new friends. She even reconnects with a guy from her hometown.
The second book in the series, Red Knight Falling, did not go quite as quickly for me. Probably because I didn’t have six hours of uninterrupted reading time to devote to it. It pretty much picks up where Harmony Black leaves off, with Harmony, Jessie, Keith (the tech nerd), and April (psychologist/former amazing field agent until she got put in a wheel chair on an op) heading off for another adventure. This time, Red Knight, a satellite, is falling from the sky. No one really knows why it’s up there, but apparently it’s protecting the Earth from something OUT THERE that is threatening the planet. Of course there are conspiracies lurking under the surface that Harmony and her team are just starting to unearth (setting the stage for more adventures to follow). Of course Nikki, the “dead” team member who Harmony replaced isn’t actually dead. And of course, Nikki is now a baddie who is now selling her witchy powers to the highest bidder. The Red Knight story line wasn’t amazing, and nowhere near as engaging as the mystery in Harmony Black, but the character development and the long game story are of more importance here. I’ll keep going because I want to find out what sort of trouble Harmony and friends are going to get into with the FBI and the forces lurking under the surface of Vigilant Lock. The next book comes out in February 2017, I just checked. Stay tuned….