It’s not every day Charlie finds a dead witch in an alley, but it’s not entirely unexpected either. In a world where the Great Houses rule — Houses made of the purest of pure bloodlines of witches, vampires, shifters, or fae — it’s best for a mortal like Charlie to keep his head down when it comes to the affairs of the great and powerful. But … still. It’s a dead body, and it’s just lying there. So Charlie does what most people would do and calls the police who tell him to ignore it. The dead man’s House will either come and collect him or they won’t, and it’s no concern of theirs. Or Charlie’s.
The man was robbed, striped of shoes and wallet and jewelry, but the faint glint of silver in his pocket catches Charlie’s attention and, on a whim, he pockets the silver ticket. A ticket to a party held at Club 669, a club Charlie’s never heard of. It might be worth checking out. A bit of drinking, a bit of dancing, a bit of fun … and he could use the fun.
The pretty blonde who buys him a drink also slips something into it. Charlie’s head is woozy and he has no idea what’s happening as he’s led through the club, up the stairs to the private rooms. But he’s still aware enough to recognize the man who saves him. It should have been magical. It should have been romantic, like a meet-cute from a romance novel as Charlie is rescued by the man Charlie has dubbed “Dreamboat,” the man who comes into the store Charlie works every week and smiles at him. But instead of meeting him with a coy smile, or falling into a graceful swoon so that Dreamboat can catch him … Charlie ends up making a mess of his rescuer’s shoes.
Yes. So romantic.
Club 669 is the first book in the House of Witches series, and it’s more of an introduction to Charlie and Caspian — aka Dreamboat — than it is an actual story. While it packs an entire book’s worth of world building into the modest 79 pages, it ends up raising more questions than anything else.
Caspian is awkwardly charming. He’s a powerful witch with a powerful destiny and owes his life to the legacy of his House, to it service and protection. His House comes before everything else, and his duty is to the witches of his House. But he’s still a man who likes to flirt with the handsome counter boy, who wants a kiss to mean something, and who, like everyone else, wants to be happy. And Charlie makes him happy.
Charlie is a it of a cypher, for all that the story is spent in his head. Emotions are almost never in his thoughts as he focuses on actions and speculation. When he’s in a given situation — waking up in a strange room, being kidnapped, sneaking his way into a magic club — he’s intelligent in his decisions, bold and unafraid. And when it comes to Caspian, it’s still action than emotion. Charlie doesn’t live in a fantasy world (er, so to speak). He knows what he can and can’t have; he knows he’s a nothing and a nobody compared to Caspian, who is witch royalty, and he accepts that. But there’s no indication of whether he wants there to be more.
This is a quick, tightly focused read with excellent pacing and surprisingly dense world building and smooth, flowing writing. And, fortunately, it’s book one of a series. This is an author and a series I’m going to be keeping my eye on, and if you’re a fan of moody, atmospheric, paranormal romances, I highly suggest you do the same.