Best Intentions had me from the very first word, and the punchy protagonist didn’t let me down from there. Fern is a freelancer for hire, like many urban fantasy heroines, but she breaks the overdone female-private-detective mold in several, refreshing ways.
First, she’s funny as hell. Fern is always cracking a sarcastic joke, be it in dialogue or internal monologue, which adds some much-needed levity to a genre that often takes itself seriously. The book is packed with witty, quotable phrases and moments of comic genius that had me often laughing out loud.
Second, she’s short and not a martial expert, both of which she owns with aplomb. This makes for some wonderful action scenes with combatants who are also not martially competent, and draws some pretty clear lines of where Fern has a chance of winning, and when she’s completely out-matched, which she also owns by hiring a genteel yet rage-prone troll for a sidekick.
Third, she’s a self-admitted knockout beauty, which—you guessed it—she totally owns. Fern knows the effect she has on men, and uses her charms sparingly but consciously (and, to her credit, responsibly!) to get what she needs.
Lastly, and most importantly, Fern isn’t just an investigator. She takes the shadier jobs, ones other investigators are unwilling or unable to do. This sets her up for some interesting moral dilemmas (despite claiming she’s “not a nice person,” Fern has a moral streak a mile wide) and even more interesting solutions to achieve her goals in ways that allow her to sleep at night.
Other characters, including her sister Fawn, are well-drawn and incredibly varied, from the likeable-but-deadly troll to the annoying teenage girl you love to hate.
And then there’s the world! J Dark draws us into an alternate reality full of rich and unique magic, where primal forces have wills of their own and, for those foolish enough to call on them for aid, can take form and generally ruin your life. All of this, combined with sharp humor and a plot that twists and turns like a twisty-turny thing, kept the pages flipping, and left me dying to know what interesting things await in the next book of the Glass Bottles Series.