Joint Review – Premonitions by Jamie Schultz

Premonitions cover image

Publisher: Roc
Publish Date: Out now
How we got this book: ARC from the publisher


It’s the kind of score Karyn Ames has always dreamed of—enough to set her crew up pretty well and, more important, enough to keep her safely stocked on a very rare, very expensive black market drug. Without it, Karyn hallucinates slices of the future until they totally overwhelm her, leaving her unable to distinguish the present from the mess of certainties and possibilities yet to come.

The client behind the heist is Enoch Sobell, a notorious crime lord with a reputation for being ruthless and exacting—and a purported practitioner of dark magic. Sobell is almost certainly condemned to Hell for a magically extended lifetime full of shady dealings. Once you’re in business with him, there’s no backing out.

Karyn and her associates are used to the supernatural and the occult, but their target is more than just the usual family heirloom or cursed necklace. It’s a piece of something larger. Something sinister.

Karyn’s crew and even Sobell himself are about to find out just how powerful it is… and how powerful it may yet become.
This blurb came from the author’s website.

E: When I read the blurb I thought this looked like an interesting heist story augmented with magic and the supernatural. This immediately grabbed my attention because I have had success in the past with these elements in combination. Schultz certainly provided thievery, magic, and supernatural but in a much darker sense than I was expecting. Personally I would classify this as more horror/supernatural than anything else and I wasn’t quite prepared for exactly how dark it would get for Karyn yet I couldn’t stop reading as I hoped it would get better.

Marlene: I agree. I thought this would be kind of an urban fantasy/heist story, but wasn’t expecting it to be this dark. I don’t mean just gritty, I mean the horror/scary and also depressing elements. I found myself wondering why we didn’t pick this one for Halloween, because it had all the right elements for it.

E: Karyn is the leader of a rather motley group of people who all seem to have hit bottom. She is a precognizant who can see possibilities of the future but they are usually related to death or serious injury of others – rarely happy. However, her abilities are out of control and the different possibilities quickly overwhelm her unless she is on a highly expensive black-market drug. Like any drug the amount required to function kept increasing and so did her anxiety about maintaining her sanity. Anna was her best friend and keeper. While Schultz never showed any physical intimacy between Karyn and Anna, they had an extremely deep emotional bond. Their bond played an integral role in the decisions made and the end result of this story. Tommy was their resident mostly crazy mage. Magic, at least the magic shown here, wasn’t pretty and always had a cost. Tommy seemed to derive a sort of pleasure from what he experienced. Niall, a former Marine was their muscle and tactical planner who had a family member in what seemed to be never-ending debt to an unsavory element. As a result all four had desperate need for money and could lose their common sense if the dollar amount was high enough.

Marlene: Every single one of these folks was beyond desperate, whacked out, or a bit of both. Karyn and Anna’s relationship was pretty sad in its way; Anna was a gay woman in love with her straight best friend, while Karyn relies on Anna to get the money and jobs that pay for the drug that keeps her mostly sane. Nail and Anna both seem to be addicted to the danger involved in doing slightly illegal and totally crazy work, and poor Tommy doesn’t even know that he’s dealing with demons when he does magic.

E: After successfully completing a job, Karyn’s crew, found themselves the recipients of a job offer they could not turn down. Accepting the job however, meant losing their independent status and joining the list of people at the beck and call of Sobell, the worst crime lord. He had masterminded their previous job to get a hook into how the crew functioned. His job offer wasn’t straightforward but was one piece of a many layered plan all set up to give him an even more extended life and additional power while delaying the need to pay the ultimate price. His very focus meant when things started turning bad they got worse and worse. He did provide some additional magical assistance in the form of his liaison and spy Genevieve. Genevieve who very conveniently managed to start a separation of Karyn and her crew but even more importantly caused a rift between Karyn and Anna resulting in the situation changing from bad but survivable to worse. Genevieve also had more of a connection with Sobell than she was willing to admit.

Marlene: Ah yes, Genevieve. We never do find out what her real agenda was/is, or what Sobell hired her to do. Whatever it was, it was clearly more than she ever said. Sobell, on the other hand, is a disturbingly nasty piece of work. He’s sold his soul to the equivalent of the devil, and will do anything, throw anyone under the bus, in order to keep from paying up. He’s completely amoral to the point of no longer seeming human. This entire mess is essentially his fault, but he always finds some way to keep going.

E: Schultz’s world was dark and yet fascinating. Magic at least dark magic involved using Demons and bargaining with them but eventually the demon would move in and take over wrecking havoc until the human body was fully consumed. Various abilities seemed inborn like Karyn’s precog, the ability to do magic and it seemed as if the possibility of more existed. In addition to humans playing with things they didn’t understand or control Demons, Angels, and seemingly inanimate magical artifacts also had influence on the world. Occasionally I had the feeling everything in this story was the result of one or more supernatural beings manipulating things or playing the Great Game with humans as their game pieces.

Marlene: I agree. Very dark, always on the edge of scary, but impossible to turn my eyes away. As usual, I wondered how things got this way, whether this is intended to be our world, or if there was an event to send things this dark. We don’t really ever see many normal people, which makes the state of the rest of the world hard to judge. There was so much magic around, and none of it seemed to be benign.

I’m not sure whether there’s a superior being manipulating humans in general, but Sobell was certainly manipulating a whole lot of people in specific.

E: I thought the combination of flawed but motivated characters and dark deadly world in Premonitions was compelling. Karyn and her crew were put through a lot and did not emerge unchanged. I never had the feeling they really “won” because of the losses they took but they did get some of their own back. They also displayed some amazing loyalty under incredible pressure when things came down to working together or drying. Schultz also dropped a few hints about the trouble to come in the sequel in her last two scenes. I am not sure I feel sorrier for Sobell, Karyn’s crew, or the demons who will cross their path.

I give Premonitions a B

Marlene: Don’t read this one for a happy ending, because there isn’t one. This is more of a “things are always darkest before they turn completely black” type of story. And it wasn’t quite what I expected. This is definitely a story about loyalty, both that Sobell has none to anyone but himself, and Karyn and her crew are loyal to each other in the face of not just death, but things that are much, much worse. I felt compelled to see their story through to the end, and found myself hoping that their situation gets better in future outings.

I give Premonitions a B-

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