Review: Owl and the Electric Samurai by Kristi Charish

Owl and the Electric Samurai by Kristi Charish (The Adventures of Owl #3)

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Action Adventure

Publisher: Simon & Schuster May 8, 2017

Source: Publisher

My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.

The third exciting novel starring the unforgettable antiquities thief Owl—a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world.

  

Everyone’s favourite snarky, disaster-prone archaeologist-turned-thief is back with a vengeance in OWL AND THE ELECTRIC SAMURAI, the third Owl adventure. Although it wasn’t my favourite instalment in the series, this book is a definite game-changer that delivers much needed answers about the forces working against Alix, Rynn, and Nadia.

Alix Hiboux, better known as infamous antiquities thief Owl, has been through a lot in the past few months – and it shows. Sure, she’s still as pigheaded an argumentative as she ever was, but Alix is also clearly more aware of how her actions impact the people around her…and she’s learned firsthand about the consequences of getting in the middle of supernatural business. As the stakes become higher and higher, Alix is forced to take her work more seriously. Her current job? Locating a magical suit of armour nicknamed the Electric Samurai for a shady third party. But what exactly do they want with the ancient weapon? And what does the fabled land of Shangri La have to do with it?

OWL AND THE ELECTRIC SAMURAI marks a major shift in the overall tone of the series, as the narration becomes decidedly less playful. Plagued by paranoia and constantly questioning the motivations of those around her, Alix is barely one step ahead of the International Archaeology Association (IAA), the elves, and the vampires. The plot is tighter and more focused than the previous books in the series, which is a point in its favour. Fans of action adventure stories will find a lot to love here, I think. But there’s also less of the fun and funny rapport between Alix and her friends that I consider a hallmark of the series and I found myself missing it quite a lot. It didn’t help that Nadia was separated from the group for the entire story and is only present in phone calls and emails.

While I wasn’t a huge fan of the change in tone, there’s one thing in this series that certainly has changed for the better: Alix herself. Her character development has been slow and sometimes painful, but that’s just made the results that much sweeter. In OWL AND THE ELECTRIC SAMURAI, Alix is more open with her boyfriend Rynn, more trusting of her friends, and more forgiving of her former enemies. This is good character growth, people! If only Rynn would loosen up and follow suit. Was anyone else bothered by his preachy, holier-than-thou attitude? Dude needs to unclench, just saying.

As always, Owl and co. adventure to all sorts of locales known for their ancient artifacts and we get to learn a lot about the various supernatural types in Tibet and Nepal on the hunt for the Electric Samurai. Elven culture, vampire politics, and a potential looming supernatural conflict are all expanded upon, and the goals of the IAA are finally a bit clearer. We also get a number of great scenes with Lady Siyu, Alix’s Naga nemesis and my personal favourite supporting character. All of these reveals play a role in the climax of the story, and will clearly continue to effect the gang in the coming books. Buckle in, folks – it’s gonna be a wild ride.

Darker and more serious than its predecessors, OWL AND THE ELECTRIC SAMURAI isn’t my favourite instalment in the series, but it does up the ante for our unlikely heroine and her friends. Be prepared for a major cliffhanger, and expect to eagerly anticipate the fourth volume. I know that I am!

How do you feel when a series changes tones midway through? Are you a fan of the Owl adventures? Let me know in the comments!

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  • Changing tones midway through, hmmm, it depends if it is for the better or not

  • I think I will only figure out if a change in tone actually works if I read what comes after it and how the author handles that. A change in tone can mean the book and the series is evolving, which can be a good thing, Not sure this is my cup of tea, but I am curious to see how the author handles htis in the next book.

    • I’ve been musing on this, and I think so long as the change in tone makes sense for the overall series arc (and I like the change…hahaha) then it’s a good thing. Evolution and change are key for long-running series, in my opinion! Fingers crossed that the fourth book is more my speed.

  • I have wanted to read this series since it came out. But that is not what caught my eye. I swear Owl on the cover has gotten younger with each book, she looks like a teenager now.

    • The first book was the best, in my opinion – although I do think I’m the odd one out on that score. You’re right about the cover model, she definitely seems to be Benjamin Button-ing!

  • I always struggle when books change tones, especially when it goes from playful to darker … like the Harry Potter books. I loved the first 3 books, but after that it got too depressing for me.
    But anyways, I’m glad that Alix has grown from the previous installments however. She sounded like she was a pig-headed character, and those aren’t always fun to be around. I hope the next book will be stronger for you, Danya! 🙂

    • A major shift in tone can be unpleasant for me too, but that might just be because I’m not the biggest fan of change, hahaha. Why is it that things always seem to get darker rather than lighter? Hmm.

      Alix was (and is) nothing if not pigheaded. LOL. But this time she’s less pigheaded and more likeable, so it worked for me. Thanks Nick, I really like Charish’s writing so I hope so too! 🙂

  • I’m not sure how I feel about the change in tone. On one hand I thought Alix was a bit over the top in the previous books, so it might be nice to see her character change some. But a shift in tone could go either way for me. I hope to read this at some point and find out!

    • Oh, if you thought Alix was a bit much in the first two books then I think you’ll be much happier with her in this one! She’s really come into her own. Personally I liked the fun, snappy feel of this series so I’m a bit sad that it’s going darker, but maybe the fourth book will work better for me!

  • Hmmm yeah, it’s always a bit of a wild ride when a series changes tone. I’m usually not a huge fan of that. But, I am intrigued by electricity and also by samurai, so it sounds like I need to give this series a read!

    • Me neither, truth be told! I don’t like change all that much…LOL. The first book is definitely up your alley I think, and I can lend you a copy if you want. 🙂

  • MaddalenaSpaceandSorcery

    And here’s another series I need to add to my ever-growing list of books to read… 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!

    • The TBR Mountain Range continues to grow ever wider! Hopefully you get the chance to read it soon, Maddalena. 🙂

  • Greg Hill

    I’ve only read the first Owl book. Interesting that she changes up the tone here. Nice that the plot is tighter, but I think losing some of the snark might bother me too. I enjoyed that in the first book, especially when she couldn’t keep a lid on it when interacting with the big dragon guy. 🙂

    I love the idea of Shangri- La too, and getting to see some of the lore of Tibet, so that’s cool. I may need to continue these. And I’m trying to remember, but I think Lady Siyu was in the first book… if it’s who I’m thinking, yeah she would make a good recurring nemesis! Glad you enjoyed this one on balance.

    • The first one was my favourite! So snarky and fun, so I definitely missed that this time around. OMG yeah, Alix’s exchanges with Mr. Kurosawa are hilarious. I also love how she antagonizes his right-hand, Lady Siyu. She is in the first book! She’s the Naga who’s always threatening to kill Alix, hahaha.

      The scenes in Tibet were so cool, and there may have been some scenes in Shangri-La too…just saying. 😉

  • I read the first book to this series. Not gonna lie, I was breathless the whole time. It was non-stop! And while that’s a good thing in this genre, I just couldn’t catch up. So yeah, didn’t read the second book. It looks like much of the same with Alix. 😀

    • The first book was so good, I totally know what you mean about the feeling of breathlessness from all the action! Alix is certainly up to her old tricks, in a good way though. Staying on top of ongoing series can be such a challenge!

  • Really looking forward to giving this a read. Even though it may be less playful in tone, I think it’ll still be lighter than a lot of the heavier and darker horror/epic fantasy I’ve been neck-deep in lately, and I feel like I need some urban fantasy to cleanse the palate 🙂

    • Good point. I tend to gravitate towards lighter reads overall so the shift in tone to a darker one was a bit of an unpleasant shock, but I can see how it’d be a nice change after all those grim novels! I think you’ll quite enjoy this one. 🙂

  • This sounds like it had a few more pro’s then cons, It’s always good to watch how characters can grow and change in a series!!
    Tori @ In Tori Lex

    • It certainly did have more pros than cons, and it’s still a good book for sure! The character growth in this one is exceptional, and something tells me Alix will be tested even more in the next book.

  • Karen

    Another series I need to read. I have several friends that really enjoy it. I *think* I may have the first book on my Kindle.

    For What It’s Worth

    • So many series, so little time! The first book was my favourite, but they’ve all been good so far. I definitely recommend giving it a read if you’ve already got a copy. 🙂

  • I’m definitely a fan of this series and hoped to pick this up soon. I think I’ll miss the humor as well but love the fact there’s openness between everyone. Owl, friends and enemies are such a kick when thrown together – hopefully I enjoy this one as much!! 🙂

    • Oooh I can’t wait to hear your take on this one when you get around to it, Kim! The humour was missed for sure, but I loved how Alix was making a real effort to be more open and communitcate better. Fingers crossed you like it, I’m sure you will! 🙂

  • Lynn Williams

    Would you believe I actually liked this more than the first two – what is going on with us two – we’re normally very in sync with our books! I actually liked the way this went a little darker although I’m not a lover of cliffhanger endings I must admit.
    Lynn 😀

    • I know, it’s so odd! Normally we like all the same books! Maybe this is just a case of two UF novels that worked differently for us. Oooh that cliffhanger was rough! I admit that I’m dying to see what happens in the next one because of it.

  • “snarky, disaster-prone archaeologist-turned-thief”—you sure know how to get my attention lol. She sounds pretty unique! And that’s great that she’s showing growth.

    I’ve also read some series that start out pretty funny and playful but get more serious as they go. Sometimes it works, but other times I also miss the humor.

    • Hahaha, yeah Alix is pretty great! There’s something about an Indiana Jane story that appeals to us all, I think. 🙂

      I think it does work here, but I definitely miss the humour! The playful banter feels necessary to me for breaking up the tension, especially now that the series is going in a darker direction.

  • I admittedly only glanced at your review (I have yet to start this series) but I plan on doing so soon! I picked up the first two installments on sale because I LOVED The Voodoo Killings by this author.

    • I loved The Voodoo Killings too, Bonnie! It’s by far my favourite book by Charish and I’m dying for the sequel. Fingers crossed that you enjoy this series, too!