I read this book twice. Once before it was anywhere near being published and again as just before it was published. For full disclosure, I am noted in this book’s acknowledgments. An author in a writing group gave Michael Darling my email. I’d received and read the first copy long before I ever met the author. So I would consider this review unbiased.
This book earned the four stars. It is a pretty good debut novel. Both times I struggled with the beginning. The cliche of starting in the office of a private eye didn’t escape me. But how many debut novels don’t have a less than ideal beginning. Even J. K. Rowling’s first chapter from Uncle Vernon’s point of view is criticized heavily. Needless to say, I forgive rough beginnings for debut authors.
Why did it come up short of 5 stars? Well, both times I struggled with the beginning. The cliche of starting in the office of a private eye didn’t escape me. But how many debut novels don’t have a less than ideal beginning. Even J. K. Rowling’s first chapter from Uncle Vernon’s point of view is criticized heavily. Needless to say, I forgive rough beginnings for debut authors.
Also, at times the writing of the character movement and descriptions seemed stiff. Fortunately, he had just enough humor and tension for me to mostly ignore that, but for some, this stiffness might be an issue that pulls them from the story too often.
Got Luck was written by Michael Darling and was published by Future House Publishing on March 16, 2016. It is 330 pages long. This is Michael Darling’s first novel.
The novel’s premise
Goethe (Got) Luck is private investigator about reach his 10,000th day of being alive and find out who he really is. He can use magic. He is the first to have strength in earth magic for hundreds of years. And it just turns out that the case he is working on just happens to more about him than he every would have realized.
Quality: Above Average
The published version is far more polished than the early version I read. I found less that two errors per 100 pages. In fact, I only noted four things.
- She gently rolled up my pants leg (pant leg?)
- Never apologize.”” (Two end quotes)
- *** (More than one of the section breaks were not centered, though most were.)
- certain . . . activities . . . that (The ellipsis are formatted wrong. See: How to write an Ellipsis in a Novel)
Imagination and Uniqueness
The author’s imagination is definitely not lacking. Getting that imagination onto paper was mostly executed well. I already discussed the struggle with the beginning and some of the stiff descriptions and character movement. Despite that, the world was vividly depicted by the author. I never struggled with imagining the characters, the setting, or the action.
I wouldn’t be able to call it extremely unique. Jim Butcher starts off Harry Dresden as a Private Investigator and wizard. This is pretty similar, but not the same. Got doesn’t know who he is, he just knows that magic and weird stuff exists.
However, despite the lack of apparent uniqueness, the story held up quite well.
Goethe “Got” Luck is the unusual name of the main character. The feel of the writing suggests this guy is approaching forty, but we quickly learn her is only twenty-seven. Despite the inconsistency of the age in feel versus reality, Got was a very likable character. The hints of his past and his lack of heavy emotional reaction to weirdness were foreshadowing us to understand who he really is.
Erin is a drop dead gorgeous county coroner who doesn’t really give Goethe too much attention until they meet up in the Behindbeyond and are unexpectedly paired together. Her character is very deep and we only just start delving into it when the novel ends.
Got has a best friend, who is a stiff and easy to write one-dimensional filler character. He doesn’t talk or say much, yet seems to be a chick magnet. A conflict, perhaps. But he is in the novel little enough that it works.
The bad guy, I loved to hate. Which is all one can ask for, right? I’m not going to tell you who it is because that is revealed later in the novel and I wouldn’t want to give it away. His motivations are real-world, or real for the Behindbeyond, anyway.
Magic System (fantasy)
The magic system is heavily based on the Fae and the Behindbeyond. Humans don’t have magic, the fae do. The magic didn’t have anything unique. Normally I would bash the magic system for the lack of uniqueness. There were different powers for the different elements, but somehow, I despite its lack of uniqueness, I found little complaint in the magic system.
Perhaps the story of the magic system was unique enough. The author told the story of the first half-fae half-human born with earth power. And supposedly most with earth power die the first time they tap into the earth.
It also probably helped that we didn’t have a movie montage of him learning spells, though there definitely were some learning scenes, however, those all served the dual purpose of adding sexual tension, too, so they weren’t boring.
There was a second magical element to Got. I really liked that Got could see colors swirling around certain people. I really hated that it was called a “stain.” That word just didn’t fit, especially when the colors were beautiful. It seemed to me like “stain” would be a good name when a person’s colors were corrupted, but when not corrupted, there should have been a different name.
However, the name aside, it was a unique take on seeing someone’s aura. This wasn’t in the early copy of the book, the first time I read it, but was in the second copy and made the book much better.
There weren’t any problems with the eBook quality, which is good.
Profanity: Zero F-words. There was very little profanity. I’d have to search the book to figure out
Sexuality: There is a fair amount of sexual tension. There is one description of a fae who was barely covered (mostly naked)
Violence: The violence involves fighting and magic and demons. It is mostly gore-free, with some descriptive blood and frightening scenes.
The author toned down some extremes. I remember a scene in the early copy of this book where, the author described one of the Fae standing naked in all her womanly glory, without an ounce of shame. While that made a statement about the fae and had an edge to it, I might have said readers of this book had to be fifteen or older. However, in the published release, that scene was cleaned up by partially covering her up. It seems much cleaner than I remembered it. Any child twelve and up could read and enjoy this book.
About the Author
Michael Darling graduated from Weber State University with a degree in English Literature and loves to blend the classic with the contemporary in his writing.
He has worked as a butcher, a librarian, and a magician. Not all at the same time. He nests in the exquisitely beautiful Rocky Mountains with his equally breathtaking wife and six guinea pigs, one of whom thinks she’s a dog and three of whom claim to be children. Michael’s award-winning short fiction is frequently featured in anthologies. Got Luck is his first novel, which is scheduled for publication in March 2016.
Please visit Michael at http://www.michaelcdarling.com where you can find links to stock him via your favorite soical media outlets.