Brady Jenkins is so far down on his luck, he’s at the bottom. He can’t get his witchery license without a familiar, but he’s tried summoning a familiar numerous times to no avail. Brady is working several part-time jobs just to try and make ends meet, and his mother never loses an opportunity for a veiled, or not so veiled, jab. And then, finally, Brady manages to summon his familiar.
Malachi the cat is everything Brady ever wanted, and they quickly fall into a rhythm. Even if Malachi is occasionally a jerk. After several months together, Brady needs to relax. But when he tries to find someone to pick up, he’s instead faced with a huge panther. Brady knows at once it’s his little cat Malachi, and then the truth comes out: Malachi is actually a Guardian, a god of magic.
It takes a while for Brady to wrap his head around the fact that he’s actually so powerful that Malachi had to wait before he could appear to Brady. As Brady studies for his exam, his relationship with Malachi grows deeper. He’s Malachi’s in every sense of the word, and as Malachi can shift into a human form as well, their relationship becomes physical. If Brady can manage to pass his test, he and Malachi can take on the world.
As soon as I read the blurb on this one, I quickly snatched it up. An intriguing premise had me interested, and the moment I began reading, I was hooked. Brady has spent his life hearing he’s not good enough, and he really believes it. But his desperation and determination shines through with every word, and I adored him. I wanted him to succeed, and I couldn’t wait to see where this story went.
The banter between Brady and Malachi is by turns adorable and heartfelt. They snark at each other, but in a good natured way, and they get each other on every level. I really loved the way they fit together, as they really seemed like natural extensions of each other. And their relationship grew along with them as they became more comfortable with each other.
There’s a definite fun feeling to this story. Brady is young, only 20, but he’s not immature. Well, mostly not. And there are pop culture references strewn throughout the text that ground the reader in reality, letting us know it’s an alternate universe, but a contemporary one. I really enjoyed the world building here. The author did a fantastic job of giving all the pertinent info as to the magic structure, how it worked, and how it was regulated, without it ever feeling like an info dump.
There are some heavier themes throughout the story, in particular with Brady’s self-esteem, and I thought it was handled well. Brady could have fallen into a too whiny category, and I could have easily been irritated by his lack of confidence. But it was so organic and natural for the character, and changed the more comfortable and confident he became, that it worked. There was also a particularly good balance between these emotions and the fun, so that the story never leaned too heavily in either direction.
All in all, this one is easy to recommend. The writing is crisp and smooth, the world building well done, and the MCs really make the story shine. I thoroughly enjoyed it.