Alix Hiboux, the protagonist of Kristi Charish’s debut novel, is a grad student turned antiquities thief with one rule: she will not take on any jobs involving supernatural elements. With that stipulation in place, it’s pretty much guaranteed that the novel will throw her into an adventure filled with dragons, vampires, and magic. Alix (known as Owl) is approached by Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon who owns a Vegas casino. He makes her an irresistible offer: if she can retrieve a missing ancient scroll, he’ll get rid of the pack of vampires that’s trying to kill her (it’s a long story). One more job and she can return to a normal life.
An Indiana Jane–style character, Alix successfully carries this story through a variety of exotic locales, including Vegas, Japan, and the ancient catacombs of Bali. In some ways, Alix is a prototypical adventure hero: she’s smart yet cocky, has a quick wit, and often acts before she thinks. It’s occasionally frustrating to watch Alix blunder into one mess after another; what makes this bearable is her devotion to her friends Nadya and Rynn. Alix also gets support from her cat, Captain, an Egyptian Mau that’s trained to hunt vampires. Captain is an hilarious and intelligent sidekick.
Charish does an excellent job of weaving the magical elements of her story in with the human world. At times the novel could double as an encyclopedia of supernatural creatures: the story is crawling with otherworldly entities, but these are woven into the narrative so effortlessly that it is easy for the reader to suspend disbelief. Charish has all the makings of a robust series on her hands.