Review: The Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin

August 24, 2014 4.5 stars, Book Review 13 ★★★★½

Review: The Grendel Affair by Lisa ShearinThe Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin
Series: SPI Files #1
Published by Ace on December 31, 2013
Genres: Adult SFF, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 292
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher

*This book was provided by the Publisher for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.

We’re Supernatural Protection & Investigations, known as SPI. Things that go bump in the night, the monsters you thought didn’t exist? We battle them and keep you safe. But some supernatural baddies are just too big to contain, even for us…

When I moved to New York to become a world famous journalist, I never imagined that snagging a job at a seedy tabloid would change my career path from trashy reporter to undercover agent. I’m Makenna Fraser, a Seer for SPI. I can see through any disguise, shield, or spell that a paranormal pest can come up with. I track down creatures and my partner, Ian Byrne, takes them out—usually saving my skin in the process.

Our cases are generally pretty routine, but a sickle-wielding serial killer has been prowling the city’s subway tunnels. And the murderer’s not human. The fiend in question, a descendant of Grendel—yes, that Grendel—shares his ancestor’s hatred of parties, revelry, and drunkards. And with New Year’s Eve in Times Square only two days away, we need to bag him quickly. Because if we don’t find him—and the organization behind him—by midnight, our secret’s out and everyone’s time is up.


The Grendel Affair is hilarious! I haven’t laughed so much in a long time. The humor is reminiscent of the Stephanie Plum Series by Janet Evanovich. Here is one of the chuckle worthy moments from the story:

Ian was coming down the hill behind me. ” Subject is an elderly woman in a blue coat and hat,” he said into his comms.

“She looks like the Queen of England,” I screamed back at him.

Ian didn’t add that to his description. -p. 82

The cover and description were misleading about the vibes in this book. The cover shows a team duo, both who look pretty bad-ass. The description does nothing to change that impression.

The reality is waaaay better!

Our main character, Mac, has been headhunted from the seedy tabloid she was writing for because of her inherited ability to see through all forms of supernatural “veils.” i.e. if a creature can cast a glamour to alter their appearance, or become invisible, Mac can see right through it. This rare talent brought her to the attention of SPI, an organization whose mission it is to keep supernatural existence a secret from the norms. Mac is a normal country girl from North Carolina who had hoped to make it big in the Big Apple. This job was a dream job, and she was settling in well. Until another power decided they were ready to show the existence of supernaturals in the bloodiest way possible utilizing  the most televised venue on Earth… NYC Times Square on New Year’s Eve.

Mac’s job is to point out the nasties, then get out of the way. Her partner, Ian Bryne wants her to do exactly that. Their partner chemistry is excellent and amusing. Mac’s stubborn attitude and genuine desire to fit in is appealing and keeps the story and her character moving and growing. Her bumbling attempts to fit into this elite organization are heartfelt and hilarious. This sums her up “normal girl in a crazy world” vibe:

Agent Ian Bryne.  Poster child for calm.

Me. Poster child for panic. – p.176

There were only a few problems with the story. One was that if the main bad guy wants to out supernaturals, Times Square is nice but hardly necessary. The other was the lack of romantic chemistry between Ian and Mac. That would have been fine, but I think that tension was supposed to be building between them to move into the romantic arena. I would prefer them to see other people, I wasn’t buying the attraction. Mac’s “country girl” vibe was also off, she seems way too NYC to claim country girl. The largest issue was that I felt like this may have a prequel short story before it. This book is labelled as the first, but the way the back story is given it feels like you missed something. Moving from the tabloid to SPI would be a fun story to read! If it exists as a short story somewhere, make sure to read it first.  While this is a long list, they are all really minor in light of the excellent writing, development and humor in this book.

I was more than ready for this series. I love funny. I love urban fantasy. Put the 2 together, and you’ve got yourself a winner!


When not taking care of my two children, husband and mini doxy, rushing here and there on the go, I can always be found reading. Fantasy of course being my favorite genre, but not the only I'll read. Oh yes, and I throw bad books.

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13 Responses to “Review: The Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin”

  1. Molly Mortensen

    Sounds like this story isn’t perfect, but I could use some humor right now, so I’ll probably check it out. I don’t like it when the book is misrepresented and it usually does the book a disservice. I’ll have to see if there’s a prequel.
    Molly Mortensen recently posted…Red Rising NetgalleyMy Profile

  2. Danya @ Fine Print

    I love these hilarious urban fantasy romps! Mac sounds like an awesome protagonist. All these people in UF are always so good at everything – it’s nice to hear about someone who’s panicking like the rest of us! You’d probably really like Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire; it’s got the same kind of humor as the Grendel Affair!
    Danya @ Fine Print recently posted…Review: The Ultra Thin Man by Patrick SwensonMy Profile

  3. Fry

    This book sounds like a lot of fun. I need something to pop out of me in the paranormal genre that isn’t super dour or stressful! Will have to pick this up.