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Review: Found by Jasper – Kaje Harper

Found by Jasper - Kaje Harper

Genre: Paranormal, Romance

LGBTQ+ Category: Bi, Demi

Reviewer: Ulysses, Paranormal Romance Guild

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About The Book

Jasper’s curiosity has carried him through adventures with ghouls, demons, world gates, and megalomaniac sorcerers. He plans to spend the next few years cataloging the mansion’s vast and moldering library, and experimenting with magical construction. Professor Xsing, the raccoon not-quite-familiar who’s decided to work with him, has fascinating opinions. Hamish, the sorcerer they rescued, is becoming a friend. It’s silly for Jasper to wish for anything more.

Hamish spent months chained in one small room. Now he lives free in a mansion full of books and friendly people, but adjusting isn’t as simple as it should be. When his past weighs heavily, he can ramble the woods and fields. When he can’t sleep, there’s a nocturnal raccoon happy to share his explorations. But he’s lonely, he misses his own long-lost familiar, and when he thinks he hears her ghost— even though familiars don’t have ghosts— his life is about to be overturned.

Something’s afoot— ghost, spirit, familiar, wood mouse? With Silas, Darien, and their familiars headed off to France, Jasper and Hamish join forces to help those in need. And as they work together, an unexpected chance at love may fill the lonely corners of both their hearts.

Found by Jasper is a novel in the Necromancer series, with our past heroes as side characters. Older MCs, friends to lovers, first times, demisexual.

**Content warning for secondary character self-harm.**

The Review

How could it be that I found this, the seventh of Kaje Harper’s “Necromancer” series, to be the best of a wonderful series? 

I’ve loved getting to know Silas Thornwood, the reclusive necromancer who rattles about in his late mentor’s ramshackle mansion somewhere deep in Illinois. Of course, I’ve also loved watching his relationship develop with Darien Green, a desperate college boy, forced to drop out of school due to multiple ghostly possessions. How great it’s been to see them build not only their life together, but their teamwork as a magical duo—something all but unheard of in the strange, secretive world of sorcery in America. 

In this book, however, Silas and Darien are absent, for the most part, gone off on a holiday to France by ship, along with their familiars, Grim and Pip. The focus of the narrative turns to Jasper Jones and Hamish McGregor. Jasper, another solitary sorcerer with no great power but a hugely inventive magical mind, has been studying Elias’ inherited library and helping him catalogue it. Hamish, a celebrated World War II sorcerer, rescued from brutal imprisonment during one of the earlier books, is recovering from his ordeal and helping Jasper watch the house while its owner is abroad. 

Oh, and there’s Xsing, a semi-detached familiar in racoon form, who joined the household to pursue his research of the human world. Xsing, known mostly as the Professor, has become something of a mascot in this makeshift family, almost as ramshackle as the house itself. By turns brilliant and comical, the Professor delights in everything he sees, fascinated by his new world, and also endlessly intrigued by the curious features of his particular animal form. 

And there you have it: what makes this series so special, coming to the fore in this volume where Elias and Darien are absent. It’s the familiars. From the moment I first met Grim (short for Grimalkin, an archetype of a name for a witch’s familiar), and his loose circle of fellow-familiars in the Illinois region for which Elias is necromancer, I knew that Harper was onto something. With Pip’s arrival as Darien’s familiar, the importance of the familiars was boosted. They were more than just sidekicks; they were part of the family. 

Jasper and Hamish’s adventure in volume 7 is all about familiars, and we learn a tremendous amount of their meaning in the context of the lives they share with their sorcerers. Against the backdrop of two world wars (the setting is in 1963), the peculiar adventure that forms the core of this book’s plot becomes a study in loyalty, loss, and loneliness. Unlike the other books in the series, this one brought tears to my eyes—and it was all about the familiars. 

At the same time, Jasper and Hamish, who are both socially isolated due to past trauma and their individual personality quirks, begin to see each other with different eyes. Without the distracting dazzle and charm of Elias and Darien, these two quiet men take center stage. It is a lovely thing to see, and the tender friendship that evolves into more for these men is as good as could be. 

It seems to me that the overarching metaphor here is that these sorcerers are all gay men stuck in an America that is hostile to their very existence. They create a chosen family that gives them safety within the larger society (because magical society is as biased and judgmental as the mundane one). The familiars all become further friends, whose very existence must be kept secret from the outside world.

All in all it’s a wonderfully crafted and emotionally rich book, generously laced with humor.

Five stars.

The Reviewer

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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