I first discovered Joel Jenkins when I read Dire Planet. This is the first book of Joel’s I’ve read that took place in the real world, so to speak, so it was interesting to see how Joel’s style translates in a non-fantasy setting.
Needless to say, I was not disappointed.
The Sea Witch introduces us to Max Damage, an Olympic fencer and son of Pierre Dommage, a very eccentric man. Growing up, Max was given some very unusual tutoring. Max himself is a bit unusual, extremely strong and fast, a quick healer, but with some drawbacks including sensitivity to light. But Max’s life gets turned upside down when his father passes away and he inherits the family business, Damage Inc. While Max and his new accountant Seth investigate the mysterious projects and messy bookkeeping, they’re confronted by a strange Russian woman named Minnie. It seems Max’s father was involved with a man named Zhinov, President of a splintered Russian state. And now Max and his friends have become Zhinov’s targets.
The Sea Witch opens with a bang and never makes the mistake of letting you get bored. The banter between Max, Minnie and Seth is always fun to read and Joel always manages to find a new way to keep your eyes glued to the page. This is a book that will always surprise you with new action ideas Joel is able to pull out. And the machinations of Zhinov fit in perfectly with his character as a chessmaster. And the mystery behind Max’s unusual abilities as well as his connection to Minnie is maintained nicely through the course of the book until its revelation.
As much as I enjoy Joel’s fantasy work, I have to say The Sea Witch is a welcome change and just might be my favorite of his works to date. I’m looking forward to seeing more of Max and the rest of Damage Inc.
200 pages, available from Pulpwork Press
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