Owl and the Japanese Circus Author: Kristi Charish Series: Owl 1 Publisher: Gallery Books, January 13, 2015 Format: Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages List Price: $18.00 (print); $5.99 (digital) ISBN: 9781476794990 (print); 9781476778679 (digital) Review Copy: Provided by The Publisher
Fans of Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, and Linda Hamilton will flock to the kick-ass world of Owl, a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world.
Ex-archaeology grad student turned international antiquities thief, Alix—better known now as Owl—has one rule. No supernatural jobs. Ever. Until she crosses paths with Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon who owns and runs the Japanese Circus Casino in Las Vegas. He insists Owl retrieve an artifact stolen three thousand years ago, and makes her an offer she can’t refuse: he’ll get rid of a pack of vampires that want her dead. A dragon is about the only entity on the planet that can deliver on Owl’s vampire problem – and let’s face it, dragons are known to eat the odd thief.
Owl retraces the steps of Mr. Kurosawa’s ancient thief from Japan to Bali with the help of her best friend, Nadya, and an attractive mercenary. As it turns out though, finding the scroll is the least of her worries. When she figures out one of Mr. Kurosawa’s trusted advisors is orchestrating a plan to use a weapon powerful enough to wipe out a city, things go to hell in a hand basket fast…and Owl has to pick sides.
While the description portrays Alix/Owl as an “Indiana Jane,” she reminds me more of a reluctant thief than an archaeologist. I love her rule about “no supernatural jobs ever” – it just seems guaranteed to bring her back to the supernatural world. The story starts out with Owl hiding out with her pet Egyptian Mau cat, Captain. I love the detail that Mau cats are bred to fight vampires and sing out whenever they scent one. What a great warning system for someone on the run from vampires!
I appreciated Owl’s best friend, Nadya, and her new friend, Rynn. They both are good foils for Owl, and the reader learns about Owl and what motivates her through interactions with the two of them. She is honest and loyal, and that resonates with her friends. In addition to being an archaeological thief, she also is a master gamer, and she becomes embroiled with an online hacker who feels she does not spend enough time playing computer games.
It is obvious from the opening chapter that Owl wants absolutely nothing to do with anyone or anything supernatural, and in some ways, this hampers her. However, Mr. Kurosawa really gives her no choice when he makes his offer – find the artifact and never have to deal with vampires again or else be eaten by a dragon. So Owl reluctantly begins to fulfill her job, returning to Japan and reaching out to sources there and around the world to try to find some hint about the location of the artifact. Ultimately, she travels to Bali, and here Kristi Charish’s descriptions really shine.
As an important man, Mr. Kurosawa has two primary servants with whom Owl is supposed to interact, the former samurai, Mr. Oricho, and the Lady Siyu, both of whom are probably supernatural creatures themselves. While the Lady Siyu gets on Owl’s nerves, Mr. Oricho almost becomes a friend to her and is especially helpful in finding the artifact.
There is a twist at the end of the story that I would never have suspected without some understanding of Japanese culture, and even with that knowledge, I was surprised and pleased with the development. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Owl and the Japanese Circus and look forward to more adventures with Owl. My one quibble is this – how Owl acquired her nickname is never explained, and that mystery still bothers me!