Stephanie Ahn’s debut novel is, frankly, one of the finest urban fantasy books that I’ve read this year.
Deadline is such a super rereadable book thanks to Harrietta Lee, our main character who happens to be flawed and fun, and Ahn’s incredible worldbuilding. From the first line in the book, one that sees Harry noticing a demon that’s busy checking her out, I was hooked. Harry is a witch who doesn’t exactly have the best reputation in New York’s magical community and, as a result, has been forced to take assorted odd jobs as a magical private investigator because she doesn’t have the connections she once had.
The job that lands her in hot water and the titular deadline? Well, it involves a magical artifact, an apprentice that might not be on the up and up, giant mole chimeras, and in-fighting amongst two of the city’s big magical families– including the one Harry’s sort of ex Miriam is heading up.
It’s a solid mystery plot with all the good stuff that I love about the genre, but that’s not all there is to love about Deadline.
Ahn’s plot choices aren’t predictable and in fact, I think that the way she plays around with established genre conventions is pretty darn neat (and, I’d argue, somewhat subversive). Harry, as a Korean-American witch who’s also a lesbian, looks nothing like the majority of the leading characters in the genre (which still tends towards white and straight main characters) and I can’t tell y’all how pleased I am with her very existence. Deadline is also packed full of female (or female-presenting, in the case of the succubus and another demon that makes repeated appearances in the book) characters who work together, fight together, and have complex relationships spark in the span of a few scenes.
Deadline is a breath of fresh air and Ahn is a much needed new voice in the urban fantasy genre. If you haven’t had a chance to pick up her debut novella, please do so before the sequel comes out sometime next year! I’m such a huge fan of Ahn as a writer and I absolutely want more of my fellow urban fantasy fans to get invested in her work!
Content Warnings/Notes: mild violence, adult situations (consensual bdsm), the death of a loved one, and a scene where Harry’s hand is injured (Ahn noted that some readers have had trouble with the scene).
Are There Sex Scenes/Sexual Content?: There’s sexual content, but it’s basically non-explicit (and consensual) BDSM
What I Liked Most About It: Ahn’s punchy prose (I’ve literally always wanted to describe a book that way and it seriously fits for this book), Harry is peak disaster gay and I love her, the first person POV, this book is so freaking gay y’all, that BDSM scene is super sexy but also cathartic to read
What I Could’ve Done Without: N/A
Where Y’all Can Buy It: Amazon
Author’s Website/Social Media: Stephanie Ahn @ Twitter | Tumblr | Website
Rating: Highly Recommended