Life-changing moments are sneaky little bastards.
Jade Crow is hiding from her crazy sorcerer ex in a town full of shifters. She can’t use her magic, because he could find her. When her shifter friends are threatened by a warlock, she has a choice: run or use her magic to help them.
Justice calling is a short and pretty standard urban fantasy. You got your shifters, your magic-users and the obligatory sexy guy and dark past. It reads well and had enough that drew me into the story. I liked that it had a lot of diversity character-wise. Jade Crow, the protagonist, is native American, as are other characters. We also get female friendship between Jade and Harper, a fox-shifter.
This story has the bane of a lot of Urban Fantasy: Insta-Lust. I do not like insta-lust at all. There is danger and strange things happening but yeah, take some time out of all that to lust over the hunky tiger-shifter. It’s not like there are better things to do. This is her reation after a stranger with a hidden gun walks into her store:
I glanced at Harper and then back at the intruder, keeping my eyes on the feather talisman. Yeah, it was better to look at his neck. Or his chin. His lips were way too kissable.
He proceeds to accuse her of murder.
I carefully didn’t look at Alek, though I could feel him looking intently at me. He didn’t trust me anyway so fuck him.
Hmm. Fucking Alek.
Also, the characters throughout the story remain flat. At a little over 100 pages there is not a lot of room but I felt completely disconnected from the characters throughout the book. Harpers mother and Jade’s friend are paralyzed but their reactions were tepid and, in Jade’s case felt unfitting to the situation.
“If that’s what it takes,” Harper said. The hope in her eyes had turned into anger.
I resisted making a comment about anger leading to hate and hate leading to the dark side, but the tension and level of predatory desire to kill was pretty palpable in the room.
It didn’t feel like Jade had a personal connection to the victims, nor did it feel like they were really friends. We are told that Jade and the others are friends, but we aren’t shown much. The story was short so I didn’t expect all that much in the way of character development but they and their relationship should feel alive and not like cardboard cut-outs. Alek especially stayed bland and flat throughout the book, not much to him except being the resident hot guy and love interest.
As far as the writing is concerned, it is not bad, though there are a lot of convoluted sentences that could have used some editing as well as many repetitions. Throughout the book it is mentioned again and again and again that Alek is a Justice and that they are judge, jury and executioner. Whenever he talks it sounds terribly stiff.
Aleksei relaxed as a confused look came over his face. “You tell the truth,” he said. “But I saw you in a vision. The Nine sent me here. There are shifters in danger and you were at the center, at the crossroads between their lives and their deeaths.”
Which leads me to the next point, which is worldbuilding. We don’t get much in this short story. It does not deviate from a pretty standard urban fantasy setting. There is nothing to distinguish it from countless others. Standard shifters, pretty standard magic, standard mystery and standard relationships.
Justice Calling is a very standard short urban fantasy. When I got it I thought it was a book or at least a novella, but it is more of a short story. There is not much to make this story unique. It is an okay read, quick and perfect if you’re looking for something in-between.