The Long Way Down by Craig Schaefer. ★★★★
The Long Way Down is a dark and gritty urban fantasy set among the seediness of Las Vegas. Daniel Faust is a magician working as a PI who gets a case from an old man looking for justice for his dead granddaughter. Said granddaughter was a porn star, and it looks like her director might have offed her. Only, turns out the director has enslaved a succubus and is only the start to a whole supernatural conspiracy.
As I said before, The Long Way Down is dark. Most of the really bad stuff is backstory or otherwise not directly happening on screen, but it’s there. There’s the rapey porn director, the enslaved succubus, and Daniel’s own backstory involves child abuse. None of the elements ever reached the point where they crossed the line for me, but know your own limits.
I really liked the world building. It’s not that there was a clearly defined magic system or anything, but the setting shone off the page with its vividness. I felt immersed in the world of magical Las Vegas that Schaefer created. On the fantastical side of things, Daniel using playing cards to cast spells with was very original and creative.
Daniel was in many ways a classic antihero for the genre. He had a dark past and doesn’t care much about the rules of the law. He’s willing to do whatever’s necessary to complete his goals, but he also feels compelled to do the right thing as he defines it.
The most important female character in the book was the succubus, Caitlin, who was also the love interest. I don’t know how I feel about Caitlin. She’s super attractive and sexy, which comes with the territory for succubi. On one hand, I tend to find this tiring, on the other Caitlin was very powerful, more so than Daniel. She actually ends up rescuing him a couple of times. However, my favorite secondary characters are the other magicians in Daniel’s “family.” I love his gay dads and his bisexual best friend, and my fingers are crossed that they survive the sequels.
The pacing and plot were both well done, and The Long Way Down really rollicked along. I was reading it on a travel heavy day, and it kept me more than sufficiently entertained for the plane flight and bus ride. The plot is introduced right away, and action is quick to follow.
The Long Way Gone is one of the better urban fantasy novels I’ve had the pleasure of reading, and I intend to seek out the sequel. I would recommend it for anyone looking for a male lead urban fantasy novel.