Review: Owl and the Electric Samurai

cover-owl and the electric samuraiTitle: Owl and the Electric Samurai
Author: Kristi Charish
Series: Adventures of Owl #3
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Length: Novel
Available: 8th May


The third exciting novel starring the unforgettable antiquities thief Owl—a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world. From the pen of rising urban fantasy star Kristi Charish (Owl and the Japanese Circus) and for fans of Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, Jennifer Estep, Jenn Bennett, and fantasy lovers everywhere.

The International Archaeology Association (IAA) is responsible for keeping all things supernatural under wraps. They’re also responsible for ruining the promising archaeology career of Alix Hiboux, better known as Owl.

Needless to say, Owl’s still a little sore about that.

Just to keep Owl’s life lively, the IAA has opened a bounty on the two designers of World Quest, the online RPG that is much, much more than it seems. Owl needs to locate the notorious gaming duo before the other mercenaries do. But finding the gamers won’t be easy since every clue points to them hiding out in the legendary lost city of Shangri-La. Not to mention that the last time Owl and the game designers spoke, their conversation didn’t exactly end on the best note…

Meanwhile, undercurrents of supernatural politics are running amok in Tokyo, dragging Owl and her friends into a deadly game of wits with an opponent who calls himself the Electric Samurai. The cost of losing? All-out civil war between two powerful supernatural factions.

Source: ARC from Simon and Schuster via NetGalley

So far I’ve been loving this series, the mix of magic and history and archeology has made for a seriously enjoyable couple of books so far. They’ve been fun and frantic and I love Owl and her slightly skewed ethical view of the world. Which meant I was excited to read this, especially when the blurb had me anticipating action in Tokyo against an Electric Samurai(!).

Except there is no action in Tokyo and the Electric Samurai is actually what Owl spends most of the book looking for. So adjust your expectations down from civil war chaos to an increasingly pressurised pursuit of objects and people while opponents gang up to collectively breathe down Owl’s neck as usual.

But it wasn’t just the blurb that was slightly off for me – Rynn didn’t feel quite right either. There’s clearly a lot going on with him, but even though Owl notices, she doesn’t seem to care. And that drove me nuts. There’s at least one conversation that Owl should have pushed for more details on, but she doesn’t. She shrugs, thinking he’ll talk to her when he feels like it. Which is not how either of these people work. It just made Owl seem massively self-centred. She only cares about what’s directly in front of her, ignoring the fact that Nadya (her one real friend) is clearly in trouble in Tokyo, danger isn’t just circling around her but Rynn as well, the elves are obviously up to something and everything keeps going wrong.

Owl is always impulsive and prone to recklessness, but she’s never seemed so flat and careless before. I didn’t feel any emotional connection between her and Rynn in this book. For the most part they don’t even seem to like each other and Rynn was only following her around because it’s become a habit.

Thank goodness for Captain. I love his mercilessly destructive little soul. At least Owl still cares about him. I also enjoyed her regular sparring sessions against Lady Siyu. Those are always entertaining and Captain vs Lady Siyu is even better.

The action is as interesting as ever, balancing moments of danger and peril against mystery and fact-finding missions. The search for Shangri-La and the battle against the IAA continues against the backdrop of elvish interference and a search for a magical suit of armour. However, unlike the previous books which were somewhat self-contained, this book is clearly laying the foundations for further trouble to come. It’s also lacking in the fun and humour I’ve come to love in this series. It’s still readable, but the tone is somewhat darker, posing more moral and ethical questions, and threatening the fate of the whole world.

So it wasn’t what I was expecting. I still liked it enough to want to continue with the series, but the change in tone meant that the ending didn’t have quite the emotional impact on me it should have. Even so, I’ll be keeping an eye out for the next book, especially after that epilogue.

Owl and the Electric Samurai is out May 8th.
Visit Kristi Charish for more details.


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