Book Review: Owl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi Charish

Owl and the Japanese CircusOwl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi Charish

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Book 1 of The Adventures of Owl

Publisher: Pocket Star (January 13, 2015)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kristi Charish is an author after my own heart. First, her book Owl and the Japanese Circus stars Alix “Owl” Hiboux, a former archaeologist turned international antiquities thief. Having been an Archaeology student myself, I can’t in good conscience say I endorse the character’s tomb raiding and thieving ways, but heck, anything to do with archaeology will inevitably will catch my attention – and consider me on board with Owl’s whole “Indiana Jane” persona! Second, much of the novel takes place in fabulous Las Vegas, one of my favorite cities in the world. And third, Owl is a hardcore gamer and lover of RPGs, and it greatly intrigues me that her favorite online game World Quest might be more than it seems…

It doesn’t end there. There’s a lot more here that urban fantasy readers will really get a kick out of, from vampires and naga and nympths to more exotic supernaturals like Kami spirits. Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon masquerading as a human that first summons Owl to his lavish Japanese Circus Casino in Vegas to make her an offer she can’t refuse – retrieve a priceless artifact for him, and in return he’ll help Owl take care of a pack of vampires that have been dogging her steps for months and making her life a living hell.

Of course, things are never so simple. And this is why Owl hates working supernatural jobs. Together with her best friend Nadya and the charismatic and hunky ex-mercenary Rynn, Owl stumbles into one disastrous problem after another in the course of her world-wide treasure hunt, and it’s going to take all her wits to simply stay alive.

Thing is, Owl may have the brains, but her problem solving abilities are often hindered by her temper, impatience, and a trigger-happy mouth that has the unfortunate tendency to spout foul insults at anyone – friends and enemies alike – when she feels they have her up against a wall. As a result, Owl feels a lot less idealized when compared to a lot of her urban fantasy heroine counterparts, making her come across more flawed, real and human. That said, I doubt it’ll be easy to get through the book without feeling multiple urges to throttle her for being so foolhardy and bullheaded, or for not thinking things through and always charging head-first into danger without a plan. Still, while it might take a while for Owl to grow on you, her spunky personality also makes this one a fast-paced, energizing read.

The story is also a lot of fun. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, the plot constantly moving from one action scene to the next, thundering along like a runaway freight train. There are a lot of moments where you have to suspend your disbelief, but nothing so extreme that it prevented me from enjoying myself. Also, as is the case with a lot of debut novels, there’s a rawness to the storytelling, some plot inconsistencies that cropped up every now and then (like, given the dangerous nature of the scroll Owl was tasked to find and the fact Mr. Kurasawa knew all about it, why would he even seek to find a translation?) and some minor contradictions (early on in the novel, Owl mentions looking forward about getting plenty of time to sleep on the plane, but later when on board, admits that she can’t ever sleep on planes) but since I read the advanced copy, I imagine many of these hiccups will be ironed out in the final.

All told, this is a great start to what looks to be a very different kind of urban fantasy. I’d like to see more of the archaeology and gaming angle, and I’m definitely interested in continuing Owl’s future adventures if the books keep up with the heavy action and fun.

4 stars

A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Pocket Star!

26 Comments on “Book Review: Owl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi Charish”

  1. Oh wow! This sounds pretty damn cool. I like archaeology stuff, and in my WIP one of my characters is a treasure hunter, so this book sounds right up my street. Great review Mogsy.


  2. Archaeology, thieving AND video games—my, my, Kristi Charish’s heroine potential just went through the roof. I’m all for a different kind of UF, and I can’t believe that I missed this on NG. Hopefully it’s still up… if not, well that’s what Xmas Amazon GCs are for!

    Carmel @ Rabid Reads


    • Yep, and I’m not sure, but last I checked the ebook is available for preorder at $2.99 I think, or that might be the price, period? Regardless, a good deal for a fun book.


  3. I’m about half way through this book and completely agree, what a fun read! It’s so different from other books I’ve read. Although I’m hoping there will be more of the gaming aspect coming up. When that first came up at the beginning, I was imagining that it would be a major plot point in the story. I guess we’ll see!


    • I wished for more of the gaming aspect too, but and there is quite a bit…but something tells me a lot of the mystery there will be covered in subsequent books in the series.


  4. I have to confess that neither the cover or the title do much to interest me. But it actually sounds really good (I know I saw another positive review of it, maybe at Beauty in Ruins?)! Teach me to pre-judge. Luckily I have blogger friends to set me straight, and add to my TBR.


    • Can’t say the title or cover did anything for me too, which is why I think I missed it on NetGalley. It was Bob at Beauty in Ruins that clued me in to this title as well! Glad he did, because the description looked awesome, and cool author too!


  5. I’m glad to see that you enjoyed it as well. It was a fun book and I really enjoyed Owl even if I was a little tired of her actions sometimes. I’m really curious to read more now!


  6. I had my problems with it, but I can’t deny that it had an interesting premise and was a fun book to read. And there are a few elements that make me interested in even giving the sequel a chance, which is impressive enough on its own since I don’t tend to like UF that much, usually.


    • I think that could be a factor…I do read a lot of UF, but this felt a bit different from the stuff I usually read. I thought it was a lot less serious than most, and just focused on having a good time.


  7. I didn’t know you were an archeology student, that is so cool! So I take it that the tombs were pretty accurate while being raided? 😉

    Haha, yeah, Owl does make some bad decisions, but I honestly think that I liked her more for that since I’ve gotten a bit over the perfect characters who always do everything right ya know? And maybe I wish I could just snap at people and tell them what I really think sometimes 😉


  8. I’ve just read this as well so waited to read your review to see how we compared. I think your review is spot on and is exactly how I felt reading this. I liked Alix and actually really liked her friend Nadya. The romance wasn’t over the top and Alix is definitely flawed which some how makes her easier to forgive even though she can be maddening sometimes. And, it was fun. It always feels derogatory to describe a book as ‘fun’, like you’re damning it with faint praise but sometimes it’s just so appropriate. I also enjoyed the archeology side of this and the gaming (which I forgot to mention completely!). I had a few niggles but they were minor, the one you mention is such a good point though – won’t say more because of spoilers!
    Lynn 😀


  9. You hit the nail right on the head with the wanting to throttle her half the time. I was like jeez she’s an idiot sometimes. Agree also on those minor inconsistencies. It always gives me a smirk when I hit things like that. Like watching a movie and finding the editing fumbles. Hopefully they fixed those before publication. Definitely enjoyed it. 🙂


  10. I’m about 70% into my copy so I figured reading your review for it was safe 😉 I’m really enjoying how ‘real’ Owl is portrayed despite her mistakes and smart mouth – it’s a nice change of pace from those ‘too perfect’ heroines we come across more often than not. I love the whole Indiana Jane thing she had going on too ♥ The different varieties of supernatural beings were awesome as well, definitely a plus for this girl 😀 We’ll have to compare notes again once I’m completely done with it^^ Awesome review!


  11. Pingback: Guest Post: “One RPG at a Time” by Kristi Charish + GIVEAWAY of Owl and the Japanese Circus | The BiblioSanctum

  12. I waited to read your review until after I posted my review–otherwise I tend to only be able to think about what the other reviewer said and then I’m not very original…LOL. Anyway, I found myself nodding to everything you say! Great review.


  13. Pingback: Review: Owl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi Charish

  14. Pingback: ‘January brings the snow’… a quick recap | Lynn's Book Blog

  15. Pingback: Book Review: Owl and the City of Angels by Kristi Charish | The BiblioSanctum

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