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Fated by Benedict Jacka

The Blurb On The Back:

Camden, North London.


A tangled, mangled junction of train lines, roads and waterways. Where minor celebrities hang out with minor criminals and where tourists and moody teenagers mingle.

In the heart of Camden, where rail meets road meets leyline, you’ll find the Arcana Emporium, run by one Alex Verus. He won’t sell you a wand or mix you a potion, but if you know what you’re looking for, he might just be able to help. That’s if he’s not too busy avoiding his would-be apprentice, foiling the Dark, outwitting the Light and investigating a mysterious relic that’s just turned up at the British Museum.




Alex Verus is a probability mage, whose magic enables him to see the future. He runs a magic shop in Camden where he buys and sells magical and pseudo-magical artefacts to mages and ordinary people alike. As a former apprentice to a Dark mage, he’s been the victim of the machinations of the ruling Council and tries to stay out of politics but that’s not easy when Luna, a girl whose under a powerful hereditary magical curse, brings a mysterious artefact to him that every Dark mage in London wants to get their hands on. At the same time, the Council offer him a job as an old magical relic has turned up in the British Museum and they want him to find out what it is.

Soon Alex is neck-deep in a load of trouble that forces him to confront his past while putting him in the middle of the struggle between Dark and Light mages. The only certainty is that everyone wants him dead …

The first in Benedict Jacka’s urban fantasy series is a fast-paced, entertaining read that features a magic system with a unique hook and neatly spins the old chestnut of dark versus light. Verus has an engaging narrative voice and although there are some telegraphed plot twists, Verus does at least acknowledge them in a way that kept me reading. All in all there’s enough here to keep me reading and I look forward to the next book.

For me the best thing about the book is Verus’s probability magic. I particularly enjoyed how Jacka showed this working, with Verus working through different scenarios and probabilities to work out the best way forward and how this can be both a strength and a weakness. Jacka also does a great job of weaving in the background world, both the wider scope in the difference between Dark and Light mages and how the Council works and in Verus’s personal history and how it’s shaped his attitude. I also enjoyed the relationship between Verus and Luna who has her own problems and whose introduction to the magic world helps the reader’s own understanding. There are a couple of places where the reader will get a twist much earlier than Verus but this is acknowledged within the book and as such didn’t bother me.

Ultimately, this is entertaining popcorn urban fantasy and I will keep reading on.

The Verdict:

The first in Benedict Jacka’s urban fantasy series is a fast-paced, entertaining read that features a magic system with a unique hook and neatly spins the old chestnut of dark versus light. Verus has an engaging narrative voice and although there are some telegraphed plot twists, Verus does at least acknowledge them in a way that kept me reading. All in all there’s enough here to keep me reading and I look forward to the next book.

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