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Reviewed by Caitlin Lyle Farley for Readers' Favorite
In Bad Soul by Bussell and Stott, Erin Banks, an assassin and private investigator with arcane tattoos, is suddenly released from a Brighton jail after six months of a three-year sentence. A demon known as the Long Man wants Erin to hunt down a man who reneged on a deal and claim the soul he's rightfully owed. In return, the Long Man promises Erin will receive a clue about who kidnapped her younger brother when she was a child, and introduced her to the Uncanny world in the process. The offer is too good to resist, despite the dangers of dealing with hungry wraiths lurking around the schism caused by the broken deal and a back-stabbing ex-boyfriend's charms.
Erin ticks all the boxes for readers who like their urban fantasy heroines snarky and jagged around the edges, with the added bonus of her being a true anti-hero. Her relationship with the no-good wizard Kirklander veers away from the standard soppy masochism into something more akin to 'frenemies with benefits' and it works so well. The dialogue throughout Bad Soul is witty with just enough British vernacular to ground the reader in the setting. Entertaining, quirky characters seem to be the norm in the Uncanny world. The fully realized magic system takes some delightful turns into the surreal with forests of screaming soul-trees and magical pathways, while also delivering satisfyingly dark creatures and magical beings. Bussell and Stott deliver a dark and gripping read in Bad Soul, marking Uncanny Ink as a must-read series for urban fantasy fans.