I received this book free from Bookrooster in order to facilitate a review. My review originally appeared at bearmountainbooks[dot]com
3.5 stars but I rounded up. I'm going to call this `Urban Fantasy Lite' considering that the fantastical elements are very minute and come in at the last moment. This isn't to say that the story is not good, I actually liked it quite a bit. The author did a terrific job of characterization, especially for the main who was charmingly real to me. Additionally, the setting of modern-day Singapore was very well done - though, as I've never been to Singapore, it read like a travelogue of an interesting city.
Ursula Formosa is a thinker - her strengths lie in research, intelligence and a knowledge of people. She is also a skeptic, she refuses to believe in things that go bump in the night. This makes her more effective in ferreting out what human agency has changed the luck of a particular client. However, the culture is a suspicious one and that is how the Check Your Luck agency gets their clients - those who believe that their luck has been changed through some supernatural means. All well and good until Ursula comes across evidence that there might be more to the supernatural than she previously preferred to believe.
Definitely not your action-packed, werewolf and vampire filled tale about a kick-ass heroine fighting for all of humanity. There is very little action at all and though I actually enjoyed the story I felt that it needed something more. I don't even mean `action' as in `fights, brawls and hullabaloo' but action as in something actually happening. The story follows Ursula working on a case and entering a new phase of her luck-checking career with a reality type television show designed to highlight those supernatural beings she refuses to believe in. In addition, the story just stopped. The final chapter before the glossary was like any other chapter and when I reached the glossary* I was startled to realise that it had been the final chapter. And then, after the glossary came another final chapter, this one structured much more like a final chapter though still leaving the story as less than complete.
I don't need goblins and ghoulies or fights and flinging blood droplets to enjoy an urban fantasy but I would like an actual plot arc that has a beginning, a middle and an end. The end result is that I enjoyed the characterization, the world building and the nature of the story but I was a little put out at the story having abruptly ended, pretty much just as it was getting interesting. I'll definitely check into further stories about Ursula because I like her. Let us hope that the author gets more feedback on the plot arcs and gives us a satisfying story for the second outing. So, what does that mean for you? Give it a try if you don't require lots of action and weapons and tight leather pants, meet Ursula and see Singapore through her eyes.
*The glossary was very interesting, especially to this non-world traveler who has never visited this area of the globe. I am not generally a fan of glossaries (if you can't figure it out in context, the author is doing it wrong, is my general thought) but this one went further into the culture of the area and made for good reading.