Urban Fantasy Book Review: Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles Omnibus

This is technically a review of three books by Rebecca Chastain, Magic of the Gargoyles, Curse of the Gargoyles, and Secret of the Gargoyles, all of which are packaged together in this bundle. I happened to pick it up for $0.99 on Kindle during a sale, so I definitely feel I got my money’s worth overall. I had varying opinions on each of the three books, and as such will handle each separately in this review.

Magic of the Gargoyles opens with a mid-level Earth Elemental (which took me a bit to figure out that by “elemental” the author meant magician, but we’ll get to that) named Mika Stillwater trying to repair some quartz containers for a demanding client. She has an unusual talent with quartz for someone at her power level, and manages to repair them perfectly despite most humans with talents similar to hers being unable to do that quality of work. Just as she’s sinking into the work, a beautiful panther gargoyle kit comes dashing into her home, thinking she’s a gargoyle and can help her save her friend.

She follows the kit and witnesses a terrorist act involving a fire gang that never shows up again, fueled by the life energy of the gargoyle’s littermate. This propels her into an action-packed (albeit brief) adventure in which she must rescue the rest of the litter from a wayward magician who auctions them off to the highest bidder. The worldbuilding is fantastic, as is the pacing. Her writing style is clean and readable, performing exactly as much as it needs to in order to get the story going. 5/5, it’s what led me to binge the next two books.

Curse of the Gargoyles opens up with the same client livid that her bottles weren’t finished, and one of the littermates from the first book has taken up residence in Mika’s apartment. She’s become a psuedo-celebrity as a gargoyle healer, and has taken up additional work along those lines. Soon she gets a call from the police department informing her that someone has begun insane experiments using gargoyle life energy again, this time involving separating the elements from inside the gargoyle’s bodies in defiance of nature.

This book spent more time working on defining the parameters of the magic system used in Chastain’s world, and although there was some character development and some fantastic descriptions, I didn’t find myself near as invested in the conflict in this second book. There was tension and danger, but the pacing felt off and most of the story felt like it was the same problem over and over again, more intellectual than emotional. 3/5. I still loved the characters from the first book, so I kept reading in the hopes things would get better.

Secret of the Gargoyles opens with the mystery presented at the end of Curse about a sleeping sickness that many humans had taken to be a part of the Gargoyle life cycle. After the dragon gargoyle who became her companion permanently at the end of Curse vouches for her in the presence of the mate to a sleeping gargoyle she attempts to heal (that was a mouthful), she’s declared a Gargoyle Guardian and given the secrets to eternal gargoyle life and healing, which the gargoyles deliberately kept hidden from all humans for millenia.

Mika enlists the help of one of her friends from the police force, a fire elemental she has a huge crush on but won’t admit her feelings to because she feels he’s out of her league, on a quest to delve into a dangerous area of wild magic where the key to healing the sick gargoyles lies.

This book had far better pacing than Curse, but didn’t quite live up to the potential in Magic. Chastain spends far too much time on the romantic subplot and not quite enough on the plot-plot for my tastes, though the climax and denoument were quite satisfying and in my opinion worth the wait. 4/5 stars, though I’m not sure how necessary Curse is to read in order to get here. I feel it could’ve been shortened to novella length or skipped over in favor of Magic straight into Secret.

4/5 overall for the series. I might check out the prequel/side story involving Mika’s best friend once she gets a few more books out. Not bad for $0.99.