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4.3 out of 5 stars
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During my quest to find any and all examples of good Urban Fantasy novels, started by my love of the Felix Castor stories, I have found many strange and wonderful worlds - That of Jack Nightingale, Constable Grant and Matthew Swift to name but a few. And now to my utter joy, here is Nathan "Nate" Garrett, who awoke in a warehouse ten years ago with no knowledge of who he is. His only clues - A gun, a Sword and a piece of paper with his name on it, along with a tendency to practice magic. And there is the backdrop for a magnificent tale of magic, mayem and general delightful madness. Set in two time periods, we slowly learn more about Nate, his true identity and what has brought him to where he is today. Using his skills as a thief, one particular job puts him on the path to this knowledge and also sets in motion a series of events that throw him right into the deep end of all things strange and magical. This was a great novel to read - I especially liked how the author has woven a mystical tale around his protagonist, taking on such great legends as Arthur and Merlin, Helen of Troy, amongst others. Nate as a character is both honourable and frightening in his actions, you will certainly root for him all the way, whilst at the same time feeling a vague need to give him a good talking too! The supporting cast of characters are all just as good - you will meet Vampires and Werewolves, Gargoyles and Psychics, all of whom add depth and heart to the tale. If you like Urban Fantasy you will love this. If you love Thrillers and Mystery but have not yet dipped your toe into the world of UF, then this is for you - you will get the best of all worlds. I don't think I have ever been so pleased to see the great words "Book 1" in the title! "Born of Hatred" Book 2 is now sitting on my Kindle and I will be heading back to see what Nate is up too very very soon. You should come too...
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on 10 February 2013
Found my way to this book on the recommendations page at the end of the previous book I read on my Kindle. Read the sample, then jumped in with the massive investment of £1.92. Really excellent value.

I am a huge Jim Butcher fan & these books have a similar flavour, personally I could not give a stronger recommendation. Rather than me waffling on anymore & giving spoliers I would suggest Kindle owners give the sample a go.
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on 5 May 2012
Set in modern day London but with a host of historical and fantasy characters, the story creates a world in which the ancient and the modern don't seem so far removed. Magic still exists and there are things that haunt the dark places of the world.

Ten years ago, Nate Garrett woke up in an alley with no memory of his past life. In building himself a new life as a contract thief, he has discovered a lot about himself, including his abilities as a sorcerer, but the truth about his past eludes him.

Hired to steal a laptop full of corporate secrets, he approaches the job like any other, but a nasty surprise is waiting for him. The secrets locked away in his mind interest a lot of people and some of the secrets are very dark indeed.

Nate has to rely on his instincts and the friendships he has formed in the ten years since his memory was obliterated. As things spiral out of control, he ends up in a race against time to figure out who he really is, in the hope that it's someone who knows how to win what looks like an impossible fight.

When I first started reading Crimes Against Magic, the use of amnesia set off warning bells but McHugh handles the concept thoughtfully. It defines Nate's character through both his unwillingness to form strong connections to the people around him and a ubiquitous sense of hiatus and expectation. Rather than a weak cliché plot device, it is a central shadow which touches and informs every element of the story.

While it takes a little while to get to the meat of the story, there is plenty of action to hold the reader's interest right from the get go. While I didn't hit that point of not being able to put it down until somewhere around the last third, I certainly never felt like I wanted to put it down for good.

Fans of urban fantasy and classic myths and legends will find plenty to love. There's also plenty of fast cars and guns, fiery women and gritty fist fights, so I think this book would check a lot of boxes among readers of crime, thriller and action adventure too.
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on 14 March 2013
I enjoy Urban Fantasy novels; the blend of ancient and modern, arcane and everyday. Crimes Against Magic is everything good about this genre. There's monsters new and old, and Magic. Lots of magic.

Nate has lost his memory, but the reader gets flashbacks into his past even while he's starting to unlock his long-lost memories. The mix of past and present is dealt with cleanly and easily, so there's not even the slightest feeling of not knowing what's going on. Meanwhile, the story fair rockets along at a breathless pace, with a cast of characters you can't help but like - even when you probably shouldn't.

I bought the second book before I'd finished the first, because I knew I'd want to go straight on. And I hope book three is out soon, because one thing I'm not is patient! Especially when the writing is this good.

The details are meticulous - the fight scenes are clearly drawn and easy to follow; the action is non-stop; and the details about weaponry is enough to be interesting without sounding like it's cut and paste from Wiki.

Bring on book number 3. And 4... and 5....
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on 16 June 2015
Sadly awful in every respect. The characters are barely developed - especially the women, who all seem to have been borrowed from the stock character list at a second-rate porn studio (seriously, the main character gets an entanglement-free lay with every adult female character within about 12 seconds of meeting them). The mythology is cobbled together without any serious thought to the implications of, well, *anything*. The magic reads like a computer game. Even the violence (of which there is quite a lot) is rote and utterly non-credible.

I love me a fun, easy urban fantasy series, and to be frank my bar for enjoyment is set pretty low - but this limbo-dancer of a book is almost impressively far below it. I'd have thrown it across the room in frustration if I hadn't been reading on a tablet. There are occasional glimmers of something more, and a strong editor might have been able to push McHugh into producing a solid, fun read; as it is, though, it's terrible. The first time in a while I've actually given up on a book entirely.
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on 9 January 2013
I bought this book after having finished another urban fantasy series and looking for a new one to fill my time. I made it through half the book before giving up and buying something else.

Whilst this book does have it's good points, the historical story is interesting and the protagonists very practical use of magic is refreshing, they are buried under unbelievable events and an absurdly Marty-Stu main character.

Firstly, so far the protagonist has has a sexual encounter with every single legal female he has met, with the exception of one who rapidly dies after being introduced. I've nothing against sex being used to forward a narrative (see the works of Walter Jon Williams for an example of how to integrate it well), but these are badly written and the majority of the time completely irrelevant or unbelievable male fantasies. For example, "You've broken into this house to steal something, and we've just met, but I want you." "We've slept together before, but I got angry at you for sleeping with someone else, now you turn up at my door after a fight with a 17 year old girl in tow? Ok, I'll kick the man I have here out, she can sleep on the sofa and we'll go and have sex." It's ridiculous.

Secondly, the protagonist keeps resorting to extreme violence at the drop of a hat, but never against someone equally matched. It's a case of, this person is a person I don't like because they are clearly bad, so I shall beat them close to death. These people don't have magic and the scenes are written entirely to show how macho the main character is, full of actions such as, I gave the knife back to him, so that he'd come at me again and I could hit him some more. To make matters even worse there is always a brief sentence after where he wonders how he could do such a thing and why it doesn't bother him, swiftly followed by a literary shrug and promply forgotten about.

The point where I gave up though was at the most absurd use of Deus Ex Machina, combined with the least consistent personality of a supporting character, that I have seen in a long time.

The protagonist has been beaten close to death and poisoned with a fatal poison. He staggers to a person we met earlier and collapses. When he awakes... "It just so happens I have the cure, and a way to revive you from near death. Of course it will only work on you because you are special. That's lucky! Can you use it again? Oh no, it'll only work once." Also, the man who provides it turns out to be an ancient and powerful vampire, fair enough. But when he says, with sinister overtones, that the price will be that the protagonist is now in his debt, that in return for this massive favour, his life itself, he must work for him, what happens? The protagonist ponders for a second and goes "Nah. I'll owe you three favours and I get to turn them down if I don't like them or if they take too long" How does this massively powerful being respond? Why he happily agrees of course! After all, this the author, sorry, the protagonist we are talking about!

At this point I gave up in disgust. Maybe there is some exceptional twist that magically explains every thing later. Maybe that is why others have rated it so highly. But I just couldn't bare to read any more of this authors self fantasy...
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on 1 May 2013
It's great to read British novels in this genre. There are far too few. This has hints of Butcher's Dresden but Nate Garret is much more confident. I would definitely recommend and I am now looking for more by this author.
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on 11 April 2013
For the love of all that is decent and good in this world... DO NOT read this book.

I can only assume that the plethora of 5 star reviews are the authors friends trying to big him up to the market. I'm ashamed to admit I fell for it.

So... how to best describe this book? I suppose, being fair to the book and the author, it's best described as 'an irretrievably awful turd of a novel'.

The characters are zero dimensional, the plot is confused, the dramatis personae range from bastardised characters from Arthurian legend to mauled Greek heroes (I really couldn't figure out what this book was trying to be), the villains are all moustache-twirling and obvious (but are hampered by the author's own limited vocabulary and skill), all of the female characters are simpering, pointless damsels who have stepped out of glossy magazines and find themselves unable to cope with, well, pretty much anything without the help of the oh so big, strong, butch main character.

Which brings us to Nate Garrett (a name which has a 5th century ring to it, I'm sure you won't agree)... a bold, strong, fearless, on-the-edge tough guy with a heart of gold who feels no pain and shows no pity to the... Oh, for Chrissake... you get the idea. The Author obviously had an ideal character he wanted to play in one of his youthful games of Dungeons and Wossnames and he's just spewed this caricatured adolescent fantasy onto the page.

Nate trundles confidently through a series of utterly predictable encounters wherein he unfailingly "Opens a Can of Whoop-Ass" on every bad guy he meets. These stultifyingly dull sections are punctuated by some really hard to swallow flashbacks to 15th Century France where Nate and the two people he cares most about in the world (even though he's only known them for 3 days) face off against a laughably maniacal facsimile of a well known Arthurian villain (who appears to have developed a suspiciously 20th century vocabulary despite marauding around medieval Europe).

All the while the evil proceedings are being orchestrated by some unseen puppet master known only as "My Lord"... Who can this wicked mastermind be? Surely not another remnant of Nate's past come back to haunt him? Yes, of course it is. And what's more, when the identity of this shady Moriarty is finally revealed, you'll be surprised to learn that it comes as absolutely no surprise whatsoever. I would have been happier if it was a character the reader stood no chance of identifying prior to his entrance, but no. It's another let down in what feels like a litany of disappointing scenes.

And then Nate gets his memory back. And when he does, the only thing that changes is that Nate can kick people's arses safe in the knowledge that he's been doing it for an awful long time. Well, whoop-de-fiddlin-doo.

Tedious, repetitive, narcissistic, amateur masturbation. I can't believe I finished it.

If you are considering reading this, try biting your fingernails off instead. It's less expensive and will be more fun. It's a shame I couldn't give this no stars.
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on 30 March 2013
I am barely thirty minutes into this abysmal story and I've had to give up. The main character is a Mary Sue; irresistible to women, practically invincible, able to conjure magic with no more than a thought. The author adds new abilities as and when he feels like it; apparently air magic can be used like sonar or to make you lighter. How? Nobody knows. It just does. This is clearly an attempt to leap on the bandwagon set rolling by excellent authors like Jim Butcher, and it's not a particularly good one. The writing is sloppy, the grammar poor, and the characterisation laughable.

Oh, and there's a lot of sex. Not well written sex. Just sex, presumably because the author likes the idea and wishes he could do it more often. "Rubbing herself ferociously" has to be the most cringeworthy line I've ever read.

I wasted money on this so you wouldn't. It's an Easter gift.
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on 12 February 2016
Unfortunately this is not good, at all. The initial premise is fine for urban fantasy: guy wakes up with no memory, finds he can do magic - sure, you could make a decent series out of that. Not so. The writing is leaden, without the wit or the linguistic panache that, actually, is usual for the genre. The author has no embarrassment alarm. The hero, a wizard-cum-master-thief, is super-tough, super-handsome and -sexy, James Bond with a wand. He beats people up at the drop of a hat, no one having a chance against him, and every woman he meets - I mean EVERY woman he meets - sleeps with him or wants to. Plus, at the level of individual action and psychology, where it matters (because, after all, no one cares about other kinds of plausibility in urban fantasy), the story just doesn't hold together, people behaving in ways that might serve the story but which are like sandpaper across the eyeballs when you're reading, they are so clunky. I read 24% of this and gave up. I bought it on the basis of the reviews, which was stupid and something I will avoid in future.
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