Seeking the Zodiacs Book 1

Fiction - Fantasy - Urban
305 Pages
Reviewed on 04/20/2019
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Hypnos is a work of urban fantasy fiction penned by author R J Blain, and the first book in the Seeking the Zodiacs series. Set in a future world where the nuclear radiation brought about by World War Three has resulted in many people developing magical abilities, there are new squads of supernatural lawmen and women ready to protect humanity from magical threats. One such threat lands in San Francisco on the doorstep of FBI Special Ops leader Olivia Abrams, and she is determined to find out the source of this powerful dark force before it engulfs her whole city.

Part crime drama, part magical fantasy adventure, this is a fresh and modern twist on the urban fantasy concept which will excite fans both old and new. I loved the diverse nature of R J Blain’s writing, set in the glorious melting pot of San Francisco where a bold cast of characters can take their places in the adventure. The post-nuclear worldbuilding was also strong but not overwhelming, giving us enough to convince us of the new lore of magic so that the real excitement of the tale can take place. Olivia was a strong female lead to be admired throughout the tale, but also relatable in her struggles and great to solve the mystery alongside. I found her dialogue really compelling with a strong sense of who she is coming through right from her earliest lines. Overall, Hypnos is an exciting start to a conceptually thrilling series with plenty of action and drama for fantasy fans.

K.J. Simmill

Olivia had always wanted a pet cop. When Detective Raymond Davis came charging into her office to accuse her of theft, he had no idea what he was letting himself in for. A rare artifact had been stolen, and she was one of the few people with a high enough magic rank to pull it off. Unfortunately for him, she was not only FBI but a squad leader. When his case takes a supernatural turn, thanks to his earlier accusations, he finds himself co-lead on the investigation. A threat is holding the whole of San Fransisco hostage in one of the largest possible terrorist attacks seen for some time. Olivia and her team must find a means to neutralize the threat before it is too late.

Hypnos is the first book in RJ Blain's Seeking the Zodiacs series. You will be drawn into a setting where World War 3 gave some people 'magical' powers, and the world has adapted to fit this into normal operations. Haunters, linkers, rune wardens, and elementals are just the tip of the supernatural iceberg. Each class has been given their own unique skillsets and the way in which they are perceived vastly alters. I really enjoyed the banter between characters. It was clear how close and tightly knit Olivia's squad was, and I loved following their adventure, learning more about them. With the story being written in a first-person narrative, readers build a great connection to the main character and insights into her thoughts will make them smile. The steady plot pace gives plenty of opportunities to learn about the world, settings, structure, and its magic. Humor, camaraderie, action, adventure, secrets, and revelations weave integral threads throughout this gripping plot.

Ray Simmons

I started reading Hypnos: Seeking the Zodiacs Book One by RJ Blain and I simply couldn't stop. The conversation was so witty and fast-paced that it would not let me go. The end of each chapter appeared too soon so I just kept reading well past my usual early bedtime. But as I read, something kept nagging at me. It almost seemed as if I had read this book before, but I knew that I had not. I would have remembered a book about a nuclear war bringing magic into the world. I would have remembered a smart, sassy, sexy FBI agent stationed in the Bay Area. Yet that feeling of having something like this stayed with me until I finally figured it out. I had not read Hypnos before. I did not know who RJ Blain was. But I had read something similar in style, a very long time ago. A style with a sassy detective, who hung around a lot of cops and monsters. But Hypnos is much, much better; much more gripping and intriguing. A book I couldn't put down.

For me, everything about Hypnos: Seeking the Zodiacs Book One seemed like the writer was thinking of me and things I am interested in. I have lived in the Bay Area. I like stories about magic, and I like stories about cops. I am particularly interested in Chinese magic and the Chinese zodiac. On top of that, I love diversity in a story. It has been my experience that this is how the world looks now. I’m guessing RJ Blain knows about a lot of things and knows interesting people to go along with that knowledge. Olivia Abrams is a beautiful person and a unique character. I love her and hope to read many more magical books about her.

Christian Sia

Hypnos is the first book in the Seeking the Zodiacs series by RJ Blain, an enjoyable urban fantasy with an interesting cast of characters. Set in the future after World War III, the story thrusts readers into a world unlike anything they have known, with the effects of radiation felt everywhere and characters with supernatural powers. The FBI is working hard to protect those who can't protect themselves, but an incident in a shopping center in San Francisco leaves everyone dead. It is a very bad omen and Olivia Abrams and her team of Special Operations must reveal the person behind this incredible power before a worse fate befalls San Francisco. But how much time do they have and can they stop whoever is behind this force?

With world tensions, political conflicts and contemporary greed, the thought of World War III isn't difficult, but this author imagines a world that is filled with powerful characters. The conflict is strong and the characters are exceptional. The plot is stellar and the pacing fast, packed with action and unpredictable turns and twists. The narrative has elements of dystopia and science fiction. The setting is well imagined and the features of a desolate world are so ingeniously woven into the narrative that it leaves readers imagining a world they are used to seeing in sci-fi movies. Hypnos is cinematic and utterly satisfying, a great intro into a series that will have readers spellbound. Looking forward to the next book in the series.

Divine Zape

Hypnos is the first book in the science fiction series Seeking the Zodiacs by RJ Blain. This is an intensely atmospheric and particularly dark narrative set in the future, after WWIII, with the effects of nuclear radiation strongly felt. But a curious phenomenon is taking place; crime has skyrocketed with many dubious individuals exhibiting unusual skills in mastering the elements. The FBI supernatural squads are charged with the mission to protect the weak. A sinister force sweeps through a shopping mall in San Francisco and leaves nothing but death in its wake. This alarms the FBI, with the premonition that worse could happen to the entire region. Agent Olivia Abrams and her team must identify and stop the culprit before something terrible happens. And time and resources aren’t on their side.

The first things that caught my attention when I opened this novel were the drama and the humor. The first person voice is absorbing and it pulls the reader in right off the bat. The reader is irresistibly drawn to the viewpoint of one of the key characters in the narrative; the humor is appealing and the evolution of the characters is good. RJ Blain plots cleverly and creates a memorable setting in a world that warns readers of where humanity could end up if it embraces greed and follows technology blindly. The prose is wonderful and the author has a gift of economy of word, composing sentences that are tight and paragraph breaks that make for dramatic effect. Hypnos left me satisfied and wanting more.