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I Belong

Review: Owl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi Charish

Owl and the Japanese CircusTitle: Owl and the Japanese Circus

Author: Kristi Charish

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: The Adventures of Owl (Book #1)

Publication Date: January 13, 2015

Format: Paperback, 432 Pages

ISBN-10: 1476794995 (Simon & Schuster)

ISBN-13: 978-1476794990 (Simon & Schuster)

Reviewed by: Steph


Fans of Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, and Linda Hamilton will flock to the kick-ass world of Owl, a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world.

Ex-archaeology grad student turned international antiquities thief, Alix—better known now as Owl—has one rule. No supernatural jobs. Ever. Until she crosses paths with Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon who owns and runs the Japanese Circus Casino in Las Vegas. He insists Owl retrieve an artifact stolen three thousand years ago, and makes her an offer she can’t refuse: he’ll get rid of a pack of vampires that want her dead. A dragon is about the only entity on the planet that can deliver on Owl’s vampire problem – and let’s face it, dragons are known to eat the odd thief.

Owl retraces the steps of Mr. Kurosawa’s ancient thief from Japan to Bali with the help of her best friend, Nadya, and an attractive mercenary. As it turns out though, finding the scroll is the least of her worries. When she figures out one of Mr. Kurosawa’s trusted advisors is orchestrating a plan to use a weapon powerful enough to wipe out a city, things go to hell in a hand basket fast…and Owl has to pick sides.

Quick & Dirty: An ex-archaelogy student on the run from vampires accepts a job from a dragon in exchange for her safety. The dragon didn’t say anything about keeping her safe from anything else though…

Opening Sentence: I hate potholes.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Ever since being unjustly blacklisted by the archaelogy world, Owl has taken to stealing antiquities for those who will pay for them. After a couple of bad experiences, Owl has sworn off doing any supernatural jobs. That is, until she’s brought to see Mr. Kurosawa, a dragon who is determined that Owl help him locate and translate an ancient scroll. In return, he swears to get the vampires chasing her off her tail for good. Owl accepts and thus begins what will become the most harrowing experience of her life. You see, Owl’s not the only one after the scroll, and the vampire after it will stop at nothing to get it. Will Owl and her friends be able to find it first? Or will Owl be forced to tell a dragon not used to hearing the word “No” that she failed to find his treasure?

This is yet another difficult book for me to rate. At times, it moves very quickly and is hard to put down, but then at other times, there are lulls that seem to last forever. It also often feels like we come into the story partway through. Not much detail is given regarding Owl’s previous supernatural encounters, and yet they shape so much of how she responds to her current situation that it often left me feeling a little lost.

Another problem comes with the character of Owl herself. Her voice is very uneven, which makes it hard to really get a lock on who she is as a character. Despite the first person narration, I still am having trouble coming up with words to describe her. She is at times very kickass, and those scenes are such fun to read. It’s not consistent though, which is frustrating. She also has a tendency to just run into danger despite warnings from friends, and this just gets her into more trouble. It gets a little old after a while.

The romance also falls a little flat. Rynn and Owl already have a history with each other when the book starts, although it hasn’t progressed into anything more than friendship yet. There’s really no romantic tension though, and with the romance scenes fading to black before getting to the action, it’s hard for any chemistry to form between the two. I just didn’t feel invested in their relationship.

On the positive side, I think my favorite part of the book involved Owl’s cat, Captain. The idea of there being a breed of cat that was developed specifically to hunt and poison vampires is very unique. I pretty much loved all the scenes in which Captain appeared. I am a cat person though, so that may have had something to do with it.

I know most of this review sounds negative, but I swear I did enjoy myself most of the time. It just always felt like something was missing, so I couldn’t completely lose myself in the events of the book. A lot of these issues could come down to it being a first in a series. I liked the book well enough that I will check out book two when it comes out. I’m hoping that the hints of a good book/series that I saw here will flourish in future installments.

Notable Scene:

Three long seconds passed, during which I held my breath.

“Lady Siyu,” Mr. Kurosawa said. The Kabuki girl produced a red lacquer pen with a very sharp tip.

Oh hell no.

I went to shove my hand into my pocket, but she was too fast; a blur of red-tipped fingernails snatched my wrist. I yelped as she pricked me with a needle and held my finger until a drop of blood fell on the page. She was strong for such a small woman. Lady Siyu said something in Japanese, and my conditions appeared on the bottom page. Just like that. Then she flipped the pen over and handed it to me. I kept her and Mr. Kurosawa in my sights as I signed. I thought I caught a glimpse of a slit eye as I passed the signed contract back to Lady Siyu. If she was human, I was a dancing unicorn.

“How does a dragon get vampires to back off dinner anyways?” I said.

Mr. Kurosawa frowned, as if my question was in line with what he’d expect from a four-year-old.

I held up my hands. “Just curious. They were pretty pissed off the last time we spoke in Egypt.” Thinking about  my Egyptian run-in with the Paris boys was enough to give me nightmares for a week.

“There are courtesies and etiquettes to follow,” Mr. Kurosawa said. “If not, I’ve been known to eat the occasional vampire.”

I believed it. Dragons trump vampires in the supernatural food chain. Which only strengthened my conviction that I was completely and utterly out of my mind for even contemplating this job.

“So, just so we’re clear, tomorrow I can use my Visa and no one will jump out of an alley and try to kill me?” Oh yeah, vampires were loving the digital era.

“I suggest you set yourself up in Vegas to start, but yes. I’ve taken the liberty of having Lady Siyu check you into one of our suites. Your van was retrieved and is in the parkade.”

Lady Siyu passed me a receipt for my Winnebago, along with the red dossier. She turned on her spiked heels and motioned for me to follow.

Mr. Kurosawa regarded me. Even halfway to a dragon he still looked every inch the rich businessman. “Words of caution, Owl: do not let yourself lose track of Lady Siyu in my private casino. People have a way of getting…lost.”

I scrambled; I was not about to get lost in a dragon’s lair-den-whatever you call it. But my business side took over.

I glanced back over my shoulder at Mr. Kurosawa before Lady Siyu entered the maze. “How do I contact you?”

“It’s all in the dossier.” He got up to leave and had almost disappeared amongst the slot machines, but I couldn’t help myself.

“What would have happened if I’d said no?”

He flashed his vicious, razor-sharp smile once more. “Those Paris vampires offered an awfully large reward for you. And I eat thieves.”

The Adventures of Owl:

  1. 1. Owl and the Japanese Circus

2. Owl and the City of Angels


FTC Advisory: Simon & Schuster provided me with a copy of Owl and the Japanese Circus. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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