It's been ages since I've talked about books I've read. It's not so much that I've been in a reading slump as it is that I've been doing other kinds of reading. I was reading my way through the ballot for the Nebula Awards, and since that's a voting thing I'm a little reluctant to talk a lot about my feelings about those works. I'm keeping up with a reread that's being done on a site. And I'm doing a "read the Bible through in a year" thing with my church, which eats up a lot of my reading time. If you want a book report there, Numbers is like reading the census report, but Judges is pretty juicy. You could make a Game of Thrones-style series out of that. There's tons of sex, violence, and, yes, nudity.
But I have read a book for fun, The Thorn of Dentonhill by Marshall Ryan Maresca. Marshall's now one of my convention buddies, but when I first bought this book, I don't believe I'd ever met him or spoken to him. It just sounded like a lot of fun, the kind of thing I'd been saying I wanted, a "non-epic" more intimate traditional fantasy.
It's about a student studying magic at a university (it's not like Hogwarts where it's a school for wizards, more like he's majoring in magic at a regular university), but at night he uses his skills from his childhood as a carnival acrobat to carry out vigilante justice against a crime boss who destroyed his family. And then one night he foils a deal and finds himself in possession of some powerful magical items that allow him to really ramp up his crusade, but that also make him a target for more than one group.
I suppose there's an element of superhero story here, now that I look at it (there's even a cape involved), but I read it as more of a Scarlet Pimpernel kind of thing. You may have noticed from some of my recent work that I enjoy the secret identity exploits kind of story. So, yeah, this was basically catnip for me. Lots of running around on rooftops at night and sneaking home while trying to avoid being caught, having to keep a straight face when others are speculating on who the alter ego really is and what he's up to. I love that we have a good, honorable hero who really is trying to do the right thing, even if he sometimes screws up. This is a great example of how a nice, good character doesn't have to be boring. He has his own issues and baggage and struggles, while still being basically a good person. The imaginary city where this is set feels like a real place, so it's no surprise that not only are there more books in the series, but there are also some spin-off stories set in the same place but involving different characters.
So, if you're looking for a fun fantasy read involving characters you actually like, this is a great choice, and I'll definitely be following the rest of the books in this world.