TITLE: The Asylum Interviews: Bronx – An Asylum Tales Short Story
SERIES: Asylum Tales
AUTHOR: Jocelynn Drake
PUBLISHER: Harper Collins/Avon Books
PUBLICATION DATE: July 3, 2012
In Low Town, where humans walk and work side-by-side with elves, vampires, ogres, and all manner of creature, it’s understandable that people occasionally need a little help in their lives. Whether is love, work, or … other, tattoo artists are there to try to help turn the odds into your favor. When Gage’s friend Parker needs help with his love life, tattoo artists Gage and Bronx are only too happy to help. But the incubus ends up getting more than he bargained for with his new tattoo, and his friends are forced to scramble to fix the mess they’ve created before someone gets hurt.
**A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.**
Asylum Interviews: Bronx – An Asylum Tales Short Story is a great introduction to what looks to be an interesting new urban fantasy series by Jocelynn Drake. There are quite a few things I liked about this novella.
First, it’s told from a male POV, which is pretty rare in the majority of urban fantasy that I read. The main character is Gage, a magical tattoo artist who owns a tattoo parlor called Asylum. Gage is a great main character – mysterious, seemingly powerful, and someone who cares a great deal about his friends. And I have a feeling that it’s this last characteristic that’s going to get him in constant trouble over the course of the series. His past is a bit murky and the door is open for learning more about his days as a warlock in the Ivory Towers, the training body of warlocks and magic users in this world.
This brings me to the novella’s greatest strength – the peek we get into the world Drake created with this new series. The action takes place in Low Town, a city set in an alternate U.S. where supernaturals abound. We have trolls, vampires, fey, and Vestal Virgins just to name a few. I loved the idea of this mid-size city filled with the supernatural. There’s no information dump that spells out the rules in two paragraphs, instead the reader eases into this world and learns about the rules and relationships as Gage tries to save a friend from the unexpected power of a recent tattoo. I also loved the concept of a magical tattoo. Potions and spells get mixed into ink to create tattoos that are more than just skin art. Setting the supernatural in a tattoo parlor just adds another layer of interest to an already unique world.
Finally, the storyline for this novella is also well-done. Gage wakes up on the floor of a woman’s bathroom in a bar and with the help of a newfound friend, the loveable and wonderfully characterized wingman, Bronx, tries to put the pieces together of what happened to him. This leads him to help his incubus friend out of a tough and emotional situation. There is humor here with hints at interesting story possibilities for the series.
The idea of this novella is to provide the origin story for how Bronx and Gage met while simultaneously whetting the reader’s appetite for the full-length debut novel of the series. I would say, “Sold!” Drake presents an interesting magical world, a cast of characters you want to know more about, and the prospect of some kick ass tattoos.