Magpie & Jynx is a book in The Twin Cities Series which is authored by multiple people. J.B. Cameron writes this novel in particular. The Realms is a parallel dimension where mythical creatures roam about the city. Magpie is a shifter. Jynx is a siren. Together, they're trying to take down a human / fae trafficking ring which is run by the Yakuza. Things go wrong and Magpie soon needs to figure out what to do to help Jynx, who has been taken captive.
I "bought" a copy of this via a coupon code on Smashwords. I haven't read any of the other novels in the series and couldn't even really determine which order they might be in. Actually, I didn't really understand many points in this book as they weren't properly explained. The author relies a little too much on the reader to know facts about The Realms. I actually had to go to the end of the book for a proper explanation about The Realms. It doesn't function as a standalone.
My first thought about the book is that I don't think any of the characters were very well written. I have no empathy for any of them and they all just seem exceedingly stupid. Magpie and Jynx' entire plan, as I understand it, was for Jynx to get captured by the police officers who are then followed by Magpie to find out more about this criminal organisation. So, essentially, they deliberately put Jynx in danger and then act surprised when she is in danger. What... Idiots. Seriously. So, soon after that, Magpie needs to go and find information on who might be holding her captive- she went with them willingly, I might point out- and finds pleasure in abusing other people. Magpie acts overly tough and her pleasure in threatening and harming others is somewhat disgusting. She's really dislikeable. Jynx, on the other hand, is a stark opposite. She's made to look completely weak. As an example. She kidnapped and simply waits for Magpie to save her. I've not read the prior books (I don't know whether this pair are in others), but it seems like this is a common theme of there relationship. They both dwell on Magpie having saved Jynx from some sort of vampire captor and a drug addiction. The author places a huge importance on Magpie being dominant and controlling, with Jynx simply being needy. Other characters are just as stereotypical and dull. Actually, one thing that confuses me in particular is Corin, a vampire. The author makes specific mention that he "swore off mortal blood". The author also implies that he's a better vampire than any others, just because of this. Yet, later on when she asks him where he's been, he makes the comment that he was feeding on a rabbit. What? He swore off mortal blood... So are rabbits immortal now? The character is written with an incredible ignorance to vampires in particular.
The book isn't really narrated very well. It's told from the perspective of Magpie. Yet it casually changes to a completely different narrator who knows intimate details about characters Magpie doesn't know. An example is when we meet Makoto Hayashi, an antagonist. His introduction is a ten paragraph narration of him. It features a few likes and dislikes. Yet, how is Magpie meant to know these things? It essentially has been swapped to an unnamed narrator who does know. Yet, in the last two paragraphs of this portion, it automatically switches back to the narration of Magpie who has disguised herself as a crow, sitting in the window. It's just confusing to have this swapping narration because the author does it on a whim and doesn't bother mentioning to the reader. It's mostly confusing because a huge amount of the book is told in Magpie's point of view and how is she meant to know which is Makoto Hayashi's favourite robe and that his sister bought it for him as a birthday present...? How is Magpie meant to know how much he hates The Realms...? In the very next portion within the chapter, we've switched to the unnamed narrator again, viewing the scene where Jynx is. This continues throughout the whole book and it is just annoying.
I'd also like to talk about the magic and fantasy themes. I think they were predominantly irrelevant to me and so little of them seemed important to the novel, even with The Realms theme. It's essentially a book where a girl chose to get kidnapped, is followed by a friend to try and get her back. A separate party makes the offer that the friend goes and steals and artefact in return for the favour of recovering the kidnapped person. As a storyline, it would have stood up reasonably well as a novel. Yet the author keeps on trying to force these magical elements into it, shoving them where they don't belong. When she's trying to recover the artefact, she's fighting and a weapon morphs into water within her hands, just to try and give it some comical aspect. To try and make her look tougher, the author has Magpie "morphing" her cloths because of her shifter nature so that they look like she's wearing leathers- which I'd just like to point out is absurd. The author keeps on sticking in mythical creatures on a whim, with no regard as to whether they fit. I see no reason to have unicorns, werewolves and vampires as they pose no relevance to the plot and could simply be replaced by horses and random thugs. None of the characters introduced as werewolves or vampires have any real importance to the plot and it just seems that they're gratuitous, that just because they're in a magical realm the author thought it best to include them. Moving on, I think that the themes with the Yakuza didn't fit in either. Sure, the author has included Asian names and the essential points of very stereotyped characters like those that have been in similar Yakuza stories. Yet, none of it feels very fitting. It's obviously just that the author has gotten excited and shoved each reference in wherever possible, without even a thought as to whether it has a proper place in the novel.
Overall, I'm unimpressed. I'm a huge fan of fantasy, yet this falls very short. The overall writing is kind of dull and the changing narration makes it quite bothersome. The characters lack any original qualities as do the magical aspects which are pretty gratuitous. It was a disappointing read. Though, considering that the other books are written by different authors, I might be interested in reading more into the series. For Magpie & Jynx? I reckon I wouldn't rate it higher than 2 stars. It was a great novel in theory, but pretty poorly executed.