Title: By Fairy Means or Foul
Series: Starfig Investigations Book 1
Author: Meghan Maslow
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal
LGBTQ+ Category: MM Gay
Reviewer: Ulysses, Paranormal Romance Guild
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About The Book
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.
This first of a trilogy set in a fantasy world of magical beings called the Elder is both ridiculous, and delicious. It embraces all the absurdist tropes of the fantasy romance genre and serves them up well spiced with wry humor. There a kind of sitcom silliness that pervades the story, even at its darkest moments, and the result is great fun to read and strangely refreshing in a genre that is inclined to be deadly serious.
The setup is the predicament of a private investigator in Lighthelm, the capital city of the Elder. With the slightly embarrassing name of Twig Starfig, our hero is a unique half-breed, the son of a female dragon and a powerful male fairy. Dragons are huge and fairies are tiny – so there’s a constant chihuahua/great dane joke shimmering in the background.
Rejected as a failure for not being able to shift into a full dragon, Twig has been banished to the Elder, where of course he is seen as a monster by the delicate, aristocratic, Machiavellian fairies – especially his father, Auric Starfig, celebrated for his bureaucratic skills and social snobbery.
When a local unicorn, appallingly named Brandsome Nightwind, comes to Twig’s office to request his help in seeking the return of his horn (lost in a seedy pub in a card game, which suggests all sorts of irony), he gives as collateral his bed-slave, Quinn Broomsparkle (the names, the names!) – who is a human sold into indentured servitude by the witches of the human realm because he has failed to fulfill their expectations and shamed his family.
Together the failed dragon, with the failed wizard in tow, set off to find the gorgeous-but-sleazy unicorn’s horn, and the expected magical mayhem ensues. Plus, there are some things that at first are surprising, but then become inevitable in that classic romance novel way. Even the expected theme of intense physical attraction is approached with narrative integrity, and is treated in a way that ultimately resonates with true emotional weight. The entire narrative, with its intertwined threads of magic, adventure, and unrequited love, is handled with a giddy, light touch by Maslow, and ultimately serves as the springboard for the next two books in the series.
Which I am so looking forward to reading.
Ulysses Grant Dietz grew up in Syracuse, New York, where his Leave It to Beaver life was enlivened by his fascination with vampires, from Bela Lugosi to Barnabas Collins. He studied French at Yale, and was trained to be a museum curator at the University of Delaware. A curator since 1980, Ulysses has never stopped writing fiction for the sheer pleasure of it. He created the character of Desmond Beckwith in 1988 as his personal response to Anne Rice’s landmark novels. Alyson Books released his first novel, Desmond, in 1998. Vampire in Suburbia, the sequel to Desmond, is his second novel.
Ulysses lives in suburban New Jersey with his husband of over 41 years and their two almost-grown children.
By the way, the name Ulysses was not his parents’ idea of a joke: he is a great-great grandson of Ulysses S. Grant, and his mother was the President’s last living great-grandchild. Every year on April 27 he gives a speech at Grant’s Tomb in New York City.
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