In Hiatt’s (The Devil Hath the Power, 2016, etc.) fantasy novel, a Korean-American man discovers long-dormant supernatural abilities and finds that an evil sorcerer wants his blood.
DL works as an auto mechanic at Al’s Garage in the small town of Le Dragon, Wisconsin. His Korean name, Daelun Yong Lee, translates to the awkward “Different Dragon Lee.” However, he wants nothing to do with Korean culture, mostly because he’s disassociated himself from his parents, who abandoned him as an infant. But there’s something else in his past he can’t ignore: he has a particular type of blood that affords him supernatural abilities, starting with superstrength and the ability to see in the dark. His powers appear to have been ignited by his one-night stand with Ekaterina Dragwyla, who turns out be a centuries-old preternatural being. Unfortunately, a man named R?zvan Bey (aka “the Collector”) has plans to obtain the blood of both DL and Ekaterina. Bey gets leverage against DL by going after high school senior Max Murphy, a part-timer at Al’s Garage whom DL sees as a little brother. Things escalate when cops suspect DL in a murder committed by Bey. The mechanic searches for allies, and he gains a few of the supernatural variety, including a faerie, a sorceress ghost, and even a vampire. They face off against Bey and his minions in a battle that entails traveling to various places via magical portals, and not everyone will come out of it alive. Hiatt’s protagonist is initially unlikable (he bluntly tells Ekaterina that she wasn’t “that good in bed,” for example), but he gradually becomes more appealing through his heroic behavior. For example, his valiant desire to keep Max safe extends to protecting Max’s parents, as well. The story playfully hints at its fantasy elements before they actually surface; for instance, a local bar is called Dragon’s Lair. There are also copious mystical characters, most of whom are introduced in the lengthy but action-laden final act. However, DL too often draws on his movie knowledge for methods to defeat villains, which generally prove successful; this makes him seem more lucky than skilled, and causes the narrative to unnecessarily rely on genre clichés.
A mostly sturdy foundation for a fantasy series that arms its hero with powers, sidekicks, and motivation.