by Josef Matulich
Series: Arcanum Faire, #1Kindle Edition, 304 pg.
Post Mortem Press, 2014
Read: August 21 – 23, 2017
So, Marc, Michael and Eleazar come to the small, university town of Arcanum, OH to set up grounds for a new Renaissance Faire on behalf of their employer. They can tell straight-off, that this isn’t your typical university town, but it takes awhile for them to understand why. Pretty much everyone in town practices magick in one form or another — and those who don’t seem pretty aware of it. This awareness seems to end around the city limits, however.
Early on, Brenwyn — the head of the local coven — stops by to ask if they can still use some of the grounds for a ritual. Seeing a way to accommodate the locals and maybe dress up the grounds, they agree. Sparks and pheromones fly between Marc and Brenwyen — Marc’s inherently leery of romantic entanglements, but his resistance starts faltering immediately and I can’t imagine any reader being stunned when he abandons it entirely.
Marc is the super-responsible crew leader, a workaholic with issues. Michael is the artistic one, ready enough to do the brawny work required on the site, but who cares more about the design. Eleazar is their loyal friend and juggler — who spends almost as much time with the prep work as he does ogling and fantasizing about the local co-eds and/or harassing Michael and Marc about their love lives/lack thereof/anything else he can think of. He’s a lot of fun, really. Michael was fine, but I could’ve used some more time with him to really get a handle on his character. Marc is the readers point-of-entry into this world, it’s his eyes that we see the world through.
Brenwyn is sassy, saucy and an outrageous flirt. The members of her coven are loyal, and just about as sassy as their Head. There’s a warlock running around who is some sort of ex- to her, and that’s the nicest thing that could be said about him, so we’ll stop there. The thing is that in this world, magick exists, it’s real, and many people live with knowing that (more without knowing that).
While work progresses on the Faire-grounds, a rivalry of sorts gets underway — with Brenwyn, Marc and the others on one side, and Drenmwyn’s ex- and his acolytes on the other. And it all seems to be focused on Marc, which he can’t seem to figure out. Oh, and there are demons, and other assorted supernatural beings flitting around. Our working men, and the coven leader, have to unite to try to stop the ex- (as well as other nefarious beings in the area).
Early on, I felt like Matulich was trying just a little too hard with the quasi-sibling rivalry between Michael and Eleazar, and even with the flirtation between Marc and — well, everyone. It was like he was insecure about things and was trying to make sure his readers understood things were amusing, rather than trusting his writing. If he’d dialed back about 10-20% early on, it would’ve helped me appreciate things. I either acclimated to his writing style, or he dialed back, I’m not sure which — not sure it matters. It didn’t take too long to settle in to Matulich’s style and start chuckling at his characters and writing.
This was a fun read — off-beat, humorous, with some characters you want to spend time with, with an interesting magic — sorry, magick — system. There’s a sequel to out there, and after reading this, you’ll probably be hoping that there’s more in progress, too. A thoroughly enjoyable, light read, with just a hint of darkness.