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In his debut, Pitts delivers the first installment of a new urban-fantasy series set in modern-day Washington state.

Sarah Beauhall has an unusual occupation for an urban-fantasy protagonist: She’s a 26-year-old blacksmith who makes and repairs swords, sometimes for low-budget film productions. While working as a prop master on a movie called Elvis Versus the Goblins, she’s approached by a man who later claims to be a Norse dwarf—despite being six feet tall. He’s interested in a black sword she’d bought years ago. The ancient sword’s true name is Gram, he says, and it must be used to slay a dragon—specifically, a shape-shifting dragon currently taking the form of an investment banker. Before long, Sarah is drawn into a conflict, steeped in Norse mythology, which turns her world upside down. Overall, the novel is fairly standard dark urban fantasy, with some clever touches—including two Hummer-driving giants named Ernie and Bert—and some decent action scenes. That said, Pitts’s decision to haphazardly jump between first- and third-person narration feels amateurish, and his long passages devoted to Sarah’s romantic angst can be slow going. One out-of-left-field scene, involving a drunken Sarah and two guys at a bar, is particularly off-putting.

A very uneven debut that may nonetheless appeal to some urban-fantasy fans.

Pub Date: May 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-7653-2467-2
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Tor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2010