Review: Jack Bloodfist by James Jakins

Published by: self-published
ASIN: B015P90ZR8
ISBN: 1516890256
ISBN 13: 9781310522574
Published: October 2015
Pages: 277
Format reviewed: mobi
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Four out of Five

As we can see from the cover, Jack Bloodfist is a fixer. This means a multitude of things, but we quickly learn that he acts as a kind of liaison for the local police for the local orcs and goblins, of which he is born from. Their main police officer is Denelle, a dark elf, and while most of the cast can pass themselves off as being mostly human (with a few self-care techniques such as grinding down tusks and things), Jack himself with his green skin doesn’t really have that luxury. Luckily, humans are pretty eager to explain things off for themselves so they don’t have to think too hard.

When we first meet Jack it’s because he has to ID one of his many, many family members. The only problem is he’s a bit busy getting ready to invite in some other new relocatees and set up a trailer for them (also family, of course). Things get both a little easier and a little harder when the UID turns out to be one half of the couple he’s supposed to be welcoming in. …The girl is soon dispatched also, and Jack is thrown around a bit for ‘sins of his father’, which certainly gives both himself and Denelle something to start with.

Throughout Jack is called for various family things, such as an uncle building a bonfire on the top of an apartment building. He constantly walks the line of what his mother’s goblin side, and his father’s orc side demand, which sometimes leaves little time for his own life, such as dating a reporter that has thankfully improved his use of grammar. And even less time when a Paladin comes crashing down on them, seeking revenge for what Jack’s father did oh so long ago, and their reason for coming to hide among the humans in the first place. The first chapter, of this man escaping a top notch prison style place was incredibly engaging, and I’d love to see a short story or two based in that facility alone.

This is urban fantasy, much like Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series, with a focus on the lore and how the characters fit together with nods to their history, which adds to the worldbuilding. I haven’t read the full Dresden series, but I feel this one is ever so slightly closer to Rivers of London than that. Told in first person as many urban fantasies are, it works well, with Jack’s voice helping with his characterisation and the world building around it. I especially liked that this wasn’t set in San Fran or New York, etc, which gives it an additional touch of realism showing how magic could be spread throughout various countries.

Overall this was enjoyable. Jack has a good nature where you don’t exactly want to be his friend, or agree with everything he says or does, but he feels pretty constant throughout the novel (which has been something I found other entries to the SPFBO have struggled with.) The only issue I had was with the pacing, which could use some work – both with the interactions of Jack between a few characters which felt rushed and therefore, not as realistic as they could have been (if the character has significant ties to the main character, it should be evident in their page time, too, else there’s little point to them having said ties), as well as the ending. At 277 pages this was a quick, engaging and humourous read. I almost feel with a bit of editing assistance this book could be a little longer to give relevant characters and plot devices the time needed to develop them, and we’d have a very strong book on our hands.