Jan 14, 2014

Posted by in Reviews | 4 Comments

Review: The Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin (SPI Files #1)

thegrendelaffair4 star

Urban Fantasy
December 31 2013
Mass Market Paperback
304 pages
Received from publisher

Kick Ass Chick – Makenna (Mac) Fraser

From Goodreads –
We’re Supernatural Protection & Investigations, known as SPI. Things that go bump in the night, the monsters you thought didn’t exist? We battle them and keep you safe. But some supernatural baddies are just too big to contain, even for us….

When I moved to New York to become a world famous journalist, I never imagined that snagging a job at a seedy tabloid would change my career path from trashy reporter to undercover agent. I’m Makenna Fraser, a Seer for SPI. I can see through any disguise, shield, or spell that a paranormal pest can come up with. I track down creatures and my partner, Ian Byrne, takes them out—usually saving my skin in the process.

Our cases are generally pretty routine, but a sickle-wielding serial killer has been prowling the city’s subway tunnels. And the murderer’s not human. The fiend in question, a descendant of Grendel—yes, that Grendel—shares his ancestor’s hatred of parties, revelry, and drunkards. And with New Year’s Eve in Times Square only two days away, we need to bag him quickly. Because if we don’t find him—and the organization behind him—by midnight, our secret’s out and everyone’s time is up.


The Grendel Affair is the first book in Lisa Shearin’s SPI Files series.  Lisa is also the author of the Raine Benares series.  I have had the first three books of that series sitting in my book closet for years!  I just can’t seem to get around to reading them even though they look really interesting.  So when I saw that Lisa was starting a new series, I read the blurb and added it to my list because it too looked good.

And good it was.

In The Grendel Affair, we follow Mac as she does her very best at her job as a SPI agent.  She is a seer – a human with the ability to see paranormal creatures.  She is relatively new to the SPI.  Her original plan was to not do what all of the seers in her family have done and that is work in some way with organizations that handle big paranormal baddies.  So she became a journalist.  But apparently, you can’t outrun fate and here she is, with the SPI, helping humans battle supernatural bad guys that only she can truly see.

I know what you are thinking.  You are thinking “but Julie, this does not sound like a completely new premise for a book series.”  Well, you are right…and not.  No, a police force that is only made to fight things that go bump in the night is not new.  But the idea that they have a seer to help them along is and I liked that aspect.  How Mac has to show them what they are dealing with is quite neat.  The other thing that I really enjoyed in this book was Mac herself.

This story is told from her point of view.  She has a quick wit and snarky humor but she is also a little lost and feeling a little overwhelmed by her new job and the direction her life has taken.  I love how she is not afraid of admitting she is worried or nervous.  I found that all made her very real even though she is surrounded by a bunch of the totally unreal.  Like a dragon lady for a boss.  Literally.

The supporting characters in The Grendel Affair were well done.  I felt a bond to most of them.  I especially liked her partner Ian.  At first you feel as she does and that is that he is not her biggest fan.  But then moments pass between them here and there and you start to wonder if you are seeing things that might prove that there is more than just dislike or even friendship there.  He is your typical tough and gruff cop and he is really cool.  Seeing his tender side here and there was a nice touch.

The story is suspenseful and full of action.   There are people and creatures dying by losing an arm and their head, Mac seems to be in two places at once (or is she just going crazy???) and there is a threat to all of the supernatural population of being exposed to humanity on New Year’s Eve.  Again, it does not sound all that new but it is.  The creatures doing the killing are not like you see often and the story is told at such a great pace you can’t help but get sucked in.  It is a ride from start to finish and one that will make you anxious for The Dragon Conspiracy, the next book in the series, expected out later in 2014.

I really was impressed with how Lisa told this story and how she wrote Mac.  The Grendel Affair is a great read and one I would definitely recommend to fans of urban fantasy.

4.5 stars

Giggle worthy quote –

“Ian shown the light inside and then down.  The column was hollow, with a hole in the floor just wide enough for one person, with what looked like a modern aluminum ladder descending into darkness.

‘Being in a mausoleum’s not bad enough,’ I said, ‘now we get to find out what’s in a dark pit underneath one.’

‘A chamber under a mausoleum is called a crypt,’ Ian told me.


‘I’ll go first.’

‘I’ll let you.'”

Books in the SPI Files series –
The Grendel Affair
The Dragon Conspiracy (2014)
The Brimstone Deception (2015)


  1. oh I didn’t know she had a new series! Now I want the book!!!! I read the first Raine Benares book but I really need to come back to it. I really enjoyed it but I don’t know why I haven’t read the others… maybe time. Thank you so much for the discovery! direct in my wishlist!

  2. Lovely review Julie, I have read some reviews that think the heroine a flat character, 1D. What is your opinion?

  3. melliane – 🙂

    aurian – I didn’t feel she was flat but she does not come from a horrid past or anything either so there’s not much to say. I found her very human – imperfect and not afraid to admit it. I actually was quite charmed by her.

  4. Thanks Julie, I like that, finally a normal heroine.

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