Title: By Fairy Means or Foul: A Starfig Investigations Novel
Author: Meghan Maslow
Publisher: Self-Published/Kindle Unlimited
Length: 280 Pages
At a Glance: A fun little fantasy romp with some surprising depth.
Reviewed By: Lindsey
Blurb: The last thing half-dragon, half-fairy private investigator Twig Starfig wants to do is retrieve a stolen enchanted horn from a treacherous fae, but there’s no denying the dazzlingly gorgeous unicorn who asks Twig to do just that. Literally, no denying, because compelling the reluctant detective is all part of a unicorn’s seductive magic.
To add to his woes, Twig is saddled with the unicorn’s cheeky indentured servant, Quinn Broomsparkle. Dragons are supposed to want to eat humans, but Twig’s half-dragon side only wants to gobble up Quinn in a more . . . personal way. Making matters worse, it’s obvious the smokin’ hot but untrustworthy sidekick is hiding something. Something big. And not what’s in his trousers. In the PI business, that means trouble with a capital Q.
Throw in gads of zombies, a creepy ghost pirate ship, a malfunctioning magic carpet, and Twig’s overbearing fairy father’s demands to live up to the illustrious Starfig name. Naturally, an old but abiding enemy chooses this time to resurface, too. Those inconveniences Twig can handle. The realization he’s falling for a human who isn’t free to return his affections and whose life may hang on the success of his latest case?
Not so much.
Review: I’m going to go ahead and throw it out there: I had fun while reading this book. The humor I expected was there, though it didn’t quite present itself in the way I thought it would, which wasn’t a bad thing at all. The overall plot had surprising depth. Based on the blurb, I wasn’t expecting that, but I appreciated it nonetheless.
By Fairy Means or Foul is a very creative step into the paranormal world. Twig Starfig, a half-dragon half-fae detective, ends up with a case—and a shadow in the form of the Unicorn’s indentured servant—to find a missing unicorn horn. The case ends up taking him and Quinn on an adventure of over-the-top crazy. The world building and political hierarchy was interesting, as well as the different supernatural factions and how they operated. I appreciated that the author tended to break norms on the different species while still maintaining their lore. Though on the surface they may appear as a reader would expect, their personalities definitely don’t match with the typical depiction.
Their adventure and all the supporting characters they meet along the way was a very enjoyable experience. The giants, cyclops, ghost-ships and so many other intriguing characters with ridiculous names and personalities…I ate it up and couldn’t stop smiling in several parts. I fell in love with Bill, and he probably is my most favorite character in a long time.
The book was fun except for a couple areas that gave it a more serious undercurrent. One of them was the bias and stereotyping that’s littered throughout the book, beginning but not ending with the two MCs. Twig is ostracized by his mother’s Dragon clan because he doesn’t possess enough Dragon genes, and he’s barely tolerated by his father’s fairy brethren. The only reason he has somewhat endured is due to who his father happens to be. People often look at him with contempt, too big to be a fairy, too small to be a dragon, not enough genes to really be either, and he’s constantly judged for being different and being the only one of his kind. Quinn, being a slave, is overlooked, his rights non-existent, and those who meet him, including Twig, assume he ended up as an indentured servant for nefarious reasons, and thus Twig not trusting him. Neither are what they appear to be, and they both have to look beyond what their preconceived notions are to find the heart of the individual. They aren’t the only ones that get a bad rap, but I won’t go into that because there are many times the issue is broached.
Also, there is a huge exploration into the whole indentured servant aspect. Slaves are the norm and once someone is a slave they no longer have any rights at all nor the ability to make their own decisions. There are all kinds of laws and contractual obligations involved in the process, and the atrocities committed against indentured servants by their “owners” was sickening. It created a deeper connection to the otherwise fairly humorous story.
So that brings me to the part that kind of let me down. The romance. Twig more than Quinn, IMO. Quinn has secrets, and some of them just keep on a-coming. But Twig was kind of a selfish jerk when it came to their romance, and it didn’t change much as the story progressed. Granted, he didn’t believe in owning someone as property, but he was unwilling to really do anything to stop it, because it didn’t directly affect him. Until Quinn. He listened as Quinn confided in him some of the awful things he had endured, and then reacted with very limited emotions, with the overall feeling that while he didn’t like it, it’s just the way things were. Twig didn’t seem overly focused on changing Quinn’s circumstances for quite a while, and a lot of his desire to change it was brought on mostly by selfish desires and feelings. Quinn’s well-being was not the driving factor, and that really bugged me. Up until the end, his self-centered views and juvenile outbursts drove me nuts, and it made their relationship more superficial to me.
Although the romantic element didn’t quite live up to my expectations, this turned out to be a fun little paranormal romp with some surprising depth. I enjoyed the actual adventure part of the story, and ultimately thought the author created a really fantastic and entertaining world with a lot of opportunity to expand and have multiple plots. There is still a lot that can be explored, especially with Twig’s relationship with his father. And though Twig’s immaturity and selfishness was maddening for me, I would still totally tune in and hopefully see him mature as he and Quinn’s relationship develops.
You can buy By Fairy Means or Foul here: