Magic Lost, Trouble Found by Lisa Shearin
Raine Benares is a finder (no, not that kind; more like this kind), an elf with minor magic only, overall pretty happy with her life in the city of Mermeia. At the start of the book, she is using her talent to keep an eye on her friend Quentin, an ex-thief who seems to have relapsed, and is currently breaking into a necromancer’s house. This is so worrying that Raine is missing dinner with her cousin Phaelan, who just got back into town (Phaelan is something of a lovable-smuggler type), but fortunately he waits with Raine while Quentin goes about his burglary. This proves to be a good thing, as when Quentin arrives at the necromancer’s bedroom he finds it full of goblin shamans and warriors, also looking for what he’s after. Quentin manages to grab his prize, a box, and gets away with Raine and Phaelan’s help; but he’s had to ditch the box and keep its contents, an amulet of unknown provenance.
Since Quentin isn’t sure if the client knows what was in the box, and thus may not get paid without delivering the box itself, they head off to the fence who brokered the deal to find out. And that’s where things go horribly wrong, because the fence is dead and his warehouse is occupied by the leader of the goblin sect that was after them before. Fortunately for Quentin, Raine has the amulet for safekeeping, and she rescues him (again). Unfortunately for Raine, the amulet is an ancient artifact of great power, with a family connection to Raine herself. And it doesn’t intend for her to take it off. It compensates her for the near-death experiences by vastly increasing her magic powers, but she doesn’t really want them, especially when she winds up being chased by both the disturbingly handsome and totally psychopathic goblin shaman Sarad Nukpana, leader of the sect who nearly killed Quentin (and who claims to have known Raine’s father–which is more than Raine herself can say), and the forces of order in the form of the Conclave Guardians, and their charismatic, handsome and decidedly non-psychopathic leader, Mychael Eiliesor. Raine would rather keep away from both sides, but is there really any way to do that? Especially without getting any of her family and friends hurt or worse?
Overall, this is a nice, light fantasy with hints of a deeper, more mythic world in the background. How far into those myths Raine will go as the series develops is the question. There is also enough of a romantic triangle (not involving Nukpana) to keep that area interesting. If I have any problem with it at all, it’s in the fact that Shearin’s elves are in no way different from humans. In fact, I can’t even tell if we actually meet any humans in the story. The goblins stand out; and perhaps it is the fact that they’re all over the place that is hiding any hints of strangeness in the elves themselves. Or perhaps it’s that Shearin just hasn’t thought it through. Anyway, if you can ignore that (and I can), this is a lot of fun and I’ll be around for the sequels.