Book Review: Deadly Curiosities

Deadly Curiosities by Gail Z. Martin, Deadly Curiosities #1

Cassidy Kincaide owns Trifles & Folly, an antique/curio store and high-end pawn shop in Charleston, South Carolina that is more than what it seems. Dangerous magical and supernatural items sometimes find their way into mortal hands or onto the market, and Cassidy is part of a shadowy Alliance of mortals and mages whose job it is to take those deadly curiosities out of circulation.

Welcome to Trifles & Folly, an antique and curio shop with a dark secret. Proprietor Cassidy Kincaide continues a family tradition begun in 1670—acquiring and neutralizing dangerous supernatural items. It’s the perfect job for Cassidy, whose psychic gift lets her touch an object and know its history. Together with her business partner Sorren, a 500 year-old vampire and former jewel thief, Cassidy makes it her business to get infernal objects off the market. When mundane antiques suddenly become magically malicious, it’s time for Cassidy and Sorren to get rid of these Deadly Curiosities before the bodies start piling up.

As I always say, Urban Fantasy comes in many different shapes and sizes and though some are the straightforward supernatural killing kind, those are just a small part, there are plenty of other options left and this is where Deadly Curiosities comes in. I read a story that somewhat had the same idea, The Enchantment Emporium by Tanya Huff, though there it goes more into the fae realm. With Deadly Curiosities Gail Z. Martin blends more of the supernatural and natural together into one great mix. If you are into fantasy the name Gail Z. Martin shouldn't have escaped you, she is the best selling author of the Chronicles of the Necromancer series (Solaris) and Ascendant Kingdoms (Orbit), Deadly Curiosities is her first foray into the Urban Fantasy genre and kicks off a brand new series! 

As I already mentioned above Urban Fantasy has many idea's from the vampire killing kind to werewolves and the fae. However one idea where this genre can really ring true is with a shop of enchanted curiosities! This is exactly the premise that Gail Z. Martin uses in her Deadly Curiosities, just as with the detective kind off Urban Fantasy series like Simon R. Green's Nightside, there are just as many story idea's as you can devise for yourself, just make a new enchanted items and wham you have a new story, which is similar to the detective casefiles. When I visit an antique store I always wonder about the story behind it and sometimes you do stumble upon just those items that do seem a bit magical. Well, the store that Cassidy Kincaide (main protagonist of the story) runs, Trifles & Folly, only has these kind of oddities! 

The story of Deadly Curiosities takes place in the town of Charleston in Southern Carolina. The antique store of Trifles & Folly is handed down from generation to generation and is currently run by Cassidy Kincaide, a young women who has her hands full on the odd business that goes on about her shop, however it is not so much as collecting all the oddities and curiosa for her shop it is also about neutralizing them and keeping the inhabitants of Charleston safe from them, because some of these items to harness great powers. Cassidy is part of a much larger organization one where also the previous owners of the store to part in, the Alliance. In her line of work Cassidy is aided by the gift of her family, she is able to touch items and detect and live the memories hidden within, this helps her out to identify the supernatural items. One thing is bound to happen when you run such a store and have such a job of keeping the supernatural items in control, and that is that things can go wrong, pretty badly. And this is exactly what leads Cassidy into a new job, some of the items that were bought from her store and which she neutralized, turn up to be haunted still. Cassidy and her friends now have to find out just what is going on before it's too late... Her friends though, aren't all that "normal" either... she has one good friend Sorren who is of the blood-sucking kind to start with, and in her quest she does meet up with a demon hunter as well.

What I have come to learn from Urban Fantasy stories is that you are often thrown directly into the fray, full tilt action etc. Deadly Curiosities in this case is more the exception than the rule. Gail Z. Martin starts off her story in a calm and relax manner and continues this all throughout the book creating a slow burning plot, this doesn't mean that Deadly Curiosities is a book where you will fall a sleep, more on the contrary, due to the time invested in many of the characters and the world itself it the story becomes that more gripping and interesting. And besides that there is plenty of action still taking place. I think it is best to see the story of Deadly Curiosities as a snowball effect, the plot start of with a minor problem that soon turns into one of major proportions. This slow burning plot produced for started a great first book with Deadly Curiosities but also shows that Gail Z. Martin is cleverly building up her world, characters and series one step at a time. I am sure that this is far from the last time we will see a Deadly Curiosities book! 

Besides the slow burning plot, Gail Z. Martin uses the psychometric ability of Cassidy in an interesting way. This psychometric ability allows Cassidy to touch objects and directly see the history of said object. By this Gail Z. Martine creates these flashback moments of the history of those items and how they are involved in the whole of the story. These histories aren't only just a sum-up of a few sentences but are created to be really vivid visions sometimes involving also the narration as how Cassidy is perceiving it, this added a certain level of intenseness to the story and did allow you to interpret some of the results for yourself as to what might just be happening. I t was a really nice way to immerse the reader more and more into the world. 

One thing where Deadly Curiosities draws a major strength from are the characters. Our main protagonist Cassidy Kincaide offers a refreshing take on the typical demon hunter protagonist. From the beginning of the book you will get the feeling that Cassidy is more or less in over her head, there isn't enough money coming in to live a life of luxury or to even pay a nice check for the other colleagues or to give her a solid meal each night and this stress does weigh down on her shoulders, added to this is that she doesn't only has to keep the store running but also has to fight and neutralize the supernatural. From the description of her you can make out that she doesn't look ugly but work is getting to her and this offers her no time to really settle down and enjoy other things in life, I liked that with Cassidy's character, Gail Z. Martin evaded some of the more stereotypical personalities that women usually have in Urban Fantasy. By her hard work for the store, Cassidy has the virtues of a determined women who does know what she wants. The other, secondary, characters that you follow are all friends and colleagues of Cassidy. For starters you have Teag. Teag is the shop managers and he and Cassidy go back a few years, he also has a few skill up his repertoire. Teag is skilled in the martial arts this is also where he and Cassidy first met and Teag has something known as Weaver magic, pretty cool stuff right there. He might seem a bit of a push over on the first take but he proves to be a deadly force when it comes down to it. Another good friend of Cassidy is the few hundred year old vampire Sorren, who got Cassidy into the Alliance to start with. The relation between Sorren and Cassidy first seems a bit distant but on closer exception they are much more involved and Sorren has something of a protector role over Cassidy that fully comes to show in the last chapters of the book. As I said at the top of the paragraph, the major strength of the book are definitely the characters, Gail Z. Martin has created a diverse set and build fleshes them out perfectly, she gives each of them an history where we haven't seen everything from just yet...

In a guest post that featured on the blog last Monday Gail Z. Martin talked about what comes looking around the corner when switching from Epic to Urban Fantasy. For me she has done a terrific job, it's not easy, at least that is what I think to make the switch. Deadly Curiosities is an exciting and fresh Urban Fantasy book and series that holds a ton of promise of future stories. The idea alone of an antique/curiosity store that harbors supernatural items leads a way for me to think about just what else is possible and they are unlimited. In this first book, Gail Z. Martin has created a set of characters that grow on you, avoiding some of the more often seen tropes in Urban Fantasy makes just more of a pleasure to read about. The world in itself is contained to the town of Charleston, but this doesn't mean that the world is static, no it's constant on the move, we have only seen a small part of Charleston and in the hopefully future books to come, Gail Z. Martin will involve the reader more and more in it.


  1. This one sounds really interesting! I think I will give this one a try :)

  2. Hi Katt, I think this is one book right up your alley!


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