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Hunting in Bruges by EJ Stevens

Hunting in Bruges - E.J. Stevens

Note: This is a spin off from the Ivy Granger series and works perfectly fine as a stand a lone.

Hunting in Bruges is a worthy addition to the urban fantasy genre. I really enjoyed this book. So much fun and intensity! Jenna is an excellent character. She’s got her past and a core set of values, both of which serve her well as she’s tossed into a difficult situation. Bruges is not her first choice of where to serve the Guild. She finds thing in quite the state when she gets there. The resident witch Celeste is strung out and not in neat, tidy control of her powers. The second in command, Simon Chadwick, is a sexist pig who’s not above using his position to take advantage of people. The Guild coroner, Doc Martens, is lazy, drunk, and not dedicated to his job. Yes, indeed, looks like Jenna is on her own for solving a string of murders.

At least until Ash appears. He gives her info on the local Bruges scene and also makes her laugh. However, there is something odd about Ash. My one little quibble is that Jenna didn’t pick up on this until well into the story when it was so obvious to me as the reader. Still, she did have her hands full with the pile of bodies, the messed up Bruges Guild, and a child-killing water fae. Luckily she has a knowledgeable Guild archivist (Darryl Lambert) and a disabled munitions expert (Aleksey) on hand!

The story was well balanced with action, character growth, and setting. I’ve never been to Belgium but now I would like to! Of course, I would go after Jenna has cleared the major cities of paranormal nasties. As Jenna digs into the pile of bodies, it quickly becomes clear that vampires are involved. There’s two major vampire families in Bruges. They are ancient and well established. Jenna certainly has her hands full!

Jenna herself is someone I would want on my team. She’s not perfect but she’s loyal, stubborn, and handy with weapons. She and Ash make a good team even though Jenna doesn’t completely trust him. I really liked how she tried to clean up the Bruges Guild as best as she can without stepping on toes. That is until it becomes necessary to risk punishment by the Guild in order to save innocents. She had tough choices to make and she did it well.

The other characters round out the story. I really liked the archivist, Darryl. He used to be a good fighter out in the field but now his blindness keeps him behind a desk. He requested his current position and he serves it well. Aleksey came into the story pretty late and I look forward to seeing what Stevens does with his character in the future. Celeste brought that sexuality and a bit of playfulness to the tale. I do have to note that we had few female characters in this tale and I would have liked a few more to balance things. Celeste eventually rises to the occasion.

The story ramps up with a potential impending disaster for humanity. I was on the edge of my seat for the last 2 hours of this book. I didn’t want to put it down. The tale wraps up well, completing the story arc for this book. I greatly look forward to future additions to this series. 5/5 stars.

The Narration: Melanie A. Mason and Anthony Bowling narrated this book. Mason had the lion’s share making a great Jenna Lehane. Bowling’s voice was used for when male characters spoke. While Bowling did well,  felt that it wasn’t really necessary to have 2 narrators for this book. I think I would have enjoyed the narration a touch more if it was just Mason. While the recording was well done, I always knew that Bowling wasn’t in the same room as Mason for his small parts. The volume was good and Bowling didn’t sound tinny, but there was still something that made his additions stand apart. Setting that aside, Mason did great with the various character voices. Celeste sounds like a drug-abusing under-sexed witch. Jenna has a variety of emotions and those were performed well for the entire book. There were also a variety of accents and those all came across well. 4.5/5 stars.