September 26, 2014

Keeping It Unreal: a review of Donna Augustine's "The Keepers"

The Keepers
by Donna Augustine
Strong Hold Publishing (2013)
Audible version: Donna Augustine (2014)
291 pages (6 hrs. 7 min.)

Magic and gambling. What could go wrong?

When it comes to Donna Augustine's Keepers, a lot.

It starts with a young waitress in a Vegas casino. Jo is doing her thing, paying her way through college, just living the life. And then it all gets sent right into the proverbial Twilight Zone when she sees a werewolf in the casino. From there it is like all bets are off as far as what genre elements will be introduced.

Werewolves, faeries, aliens, secret portals, alchemy, oh my. There are moments in the novel where things feel a bit muddled, like the story is still trying to find its footing, but Jo is presented as a pretty relatable and easy-to-root-for protagonist. She's a little brusk at times, but she's young and just now coming into her own as a "Keeper", a protector of portals that connect our world with others featuring a menagerie of "alien" species. And while there is the hunky boss who happens to be a werewolf and also happens to put a hit on her, Jo doesn't go all swoony or damsel through the story. She's a self-saving princess ... actually a self-saving alchemist.

Anyway, the blend of fantasy and sci-fi elements is handled nicely without bogging itself down or dissecting too much of the nitty gritty of the world building. It works really hard to keep the story moving forward. It's good, but really serves as primer for the greater story, as things definitely become smoother and more engaging in the second book of the series, which I should be reviewing soon. A lot of the familiar coming together to make something that feels very unique.

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