So here's the thing: I dig urban fantasy, but I'm super tired of a lot of the tropes that seem to go hand in hand with most series in the genre. The brassy and tough female heroine who reads like a Mary Sue. The ever dreaded love triangle. The worlds filled with the same tired monsters I've seen a million times, and all the people being very straight, binary, and usually white. Yes, there are exceptions, and I dig them. Generally speaking though there's a formula I'm well prepared for when I pick one of these up. That's why I was excited when this book was recommended to me as a queer urban fantasy with nods to tarot and Atlantis. Well damn, that's new! And it was.
If I had to pick another urban fantasy series to compare this one too it would probably be Dresden Files just because of the snark and the protagonist always having terrible luck and being outgunned. The world building in this one, however, is unique and I really appreciated seeing some different critters, and a distinct magic system. (The magic reminded me a bit of D&D in that you slot your spells and when you're out you're out.) The characters all grew on me, and by the end of the book I was invested in them and their trials. Perhaps the most stand-out thing this book accomplished is that it makes queerness feel extremely natural and normal. It never gets pointed to or given special treatment. It just is, and I really appreciated that.
This book does have some debut novel shakiness. The start is a bit bloated with too many characters, too many scenarios, too much...everything. It gets a little kitchen-sinky. But it does find its legs as the book progresses. I also wish there were more women in this book - it is pretty focused on the guys, and while I didn't particularly mind that might be a real deal breaker for some people.
All in all this book made me happy. It's not high literature, but I didn't realize how much I had been wanting a book like this until it rolled along. It's just plain fun, and I found it refreshing in its differences. (I felt the same way about Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse, in case you're looking for more urban fantasy that has a fresh feel.) I'm excited to pick up the second book in the series next fall as I have a feeling this author is only going to improve over time.