August 24, 2022

REVIEW The Grendel Affair (SPI Files #1) by Lisa Shearin

The Grendel Affair (SPI Files #1) by Lisa Shearin
Rating: 5 Stars
Release Date: December 31, 2013
Format: eBook + Audiobook (Personal Library)
Publisher: Ace 

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I love it when a reread of a book is just as great as the first time you read it. The Grendel Affair is the first full-length book in Lisa Shearin’s SPI Files series (set after the prequel short story Lucky Charms of anthology Night Shift - a laugh-out-loud tale you need to check out if you haven’t already), and it’s just as wacky and humorous as I remember. Fans of Ilona Andrews and Patricia Briggs will undoubtedly enjoy this book, and the lovable characters at the heart of the tale. 

Makenna Fraser is a southern girl at heart, having moved from her hometown of Weird Sisters to the big city of New York to become a journalist. Her plans get shifted, though, when she is drafted by a secret organization for her unique abilities as a seer (which allows her to see through supernatural glamours). Her new job? Helping the other members of SPI, or Supernatural Protection and Investigations to ensure that those that go ‘bump in the night’ stay the things of legend (instead of becoming front page news). 

As far as worldbuilding goes, the worldbuilding in this series is top-notch. I’m such a big fan of mythology and folklore, and the SPI Files are full of it. Each book features different creatures and legends and even brings in stories from mythologies from around the world.  The Grendel Affair in particular is heavily influenced by Beowulf (as one might have guessed from the title), and it was an interesting take on the classic monster and other elements from the book. There are also a plethora of other creatures that make an appearance in the book - readers get a front-row seat for most of them, given Makenna’s supernatural abilities. 

Makenna is a hilarious character, and I loved seeing the world from her point of view. She’s definitely not as well trained as her commando coworkers, but she’s no damsel in distress (and has a knack for getting out of tough situations). If you are an audiobook fan or just a fantasy reader looking for a good laugh, I highly recommend that you pick up the audiobook version of this book! Johanna Parker is one of my favorite narrators ever, and she did a fantastic job bringing the story to life and making me crack up repeatedly with Makenna’s humor. She also did a fantastic job with the various voices of different characters in the book (I never had an issue determining who was ‘speaking’ at any given time). 

While Mak is definitely the star of the show, there is a full ensemble cast of side characters that help make this book what it is. SPI is quite a large organization made up of many moving parts; it's reminiscent of a fantasy version of Men in Black. Each character has a purpose in the story, and they were surprisingly memorable for how little some of them appeared. Yasha has been one of my favorites; if and when this series finishes I hope the author crafts some side stories in the same universe that follow him and his adventures.  

Overall, The Grendel Affair is an amazing and entertaining book by Lisa Shearin. It’s one of my favorite urban fantasy series of all time. If you enjoy laugh-out-loud urban fantasy tales, then this book is for you!

About the Book
We're Supernatural Protection & Investigations, known as SPI. Things that go bump in the night, the monsters you thought didn't exist? We battle them and keep you safe. But some supernatural baddies are just too big to contain, even for us...

When I moved to New York to become a world famous journalist, I never imagined that snagging a job at a seedy tabloid would change my career path from trashy reporter to undercover agent. I'm Makenna Fraser, a Seer for SPI. I can see through any disguise, shield, or spell that a paranormal pest can come up with. I track down creatures and my partner, Ian Byrne, takes them out.

Our cases are generally pretty routine, but a sickle-wielding serial killer has been prowling the city's subway tunnels. And the murderer's not human. The fiend in question, a descendant of Grendel--yes, that Grendel--shares his ancestor's hatred of parties, revelry, and drunkards. And with New Year's Eve in Times Square only two days away, we need to bag him quickly. Because if we don't find him--and the organization behind him--by midnight, our secret's out and everyone's time is up.

About the Author

Lisa is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Raine Benares novels and The SPI Files.

Lisa is a voracious collector of fountain pens, teapots & teacups both vintage and modern. She lives on a small farm in North Carolina with her husband, four spoiled-rotten retired racing greyhounds, and enough deer and woodland creatures to fill a Disney movie.

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