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Reviewed by Caitlin Lyle Farley for Readers' Favorite
Nerves of Steel: Misfits of Magic Book 1 by Lee Hayton is a witty, unique fantasy with jaw-dropping plot twists. Asha is a cyborg with a talent for using telekinesis on a micro level, affecting brain chemistry being her specialty. She’s also got a hefty bounty on her head and a runaway vampire to hide. Norman has been thirteen for a very long time. His pink eyes and startlingly white skin make him immediately recognisable as a vampire and an escapee, since vampires are confined to slave camps. Asha is working a job one day when she sees a vampire not just walking free, but in daylight too. She doesn’t want to give Norman any more temptation to leave the house and risk being caught, but when the strange vampire turns up again, Asha has no choice but to investigate him.
Asha is an engaging character whose sharp wit immediately endeared her to me. She has a strange and dysfunctional relationship with Norman, often defaulting to the role of a long-suffering single parent even though he’s actually older than she is. Lee Hayton’s interpretations of both telekinesis and vampire mythology make for a quirky and original read. Having vampires enslaved by humans rather than hunting them to extinction is a very interesting reversal while Asha’s low-key telekinesis results in an odd yet highly useful ability. My only complaint is that I would’ve appreciated a little more world-building in regards to where and when the story takes place. Nerves of Steel is a far more intricate novel than it seems. Lee Hayton sets a good pace throughout, but the plot really gains momentum past the midpoint as the antagonist’s intricate plan begins to surface. The conclusion was both satisfying and completely unexpected.