Review – The Incubus Job (Mission Magic #1) by Diana Pharaoh Francis

Reviewed by: E

It’s tough to have a conscience when you kill for a living.

So six years ago, Mallory Jade gave up killing. Now she’s a fixer. Got a problem with a demon? She can help. Infestation of pixies? She’s got you covered. Kidnapped by an undead lich? She’s on her way. Anything you need, so long as she doesn’t have to kill. It’s her one unbreakable rule.

Aside from a few near-death experiences, her new life is good, until her job dumps her in the lap of the man she walked out on six years before. Law Stanger, her former partner and lover, wants her back in his life. He’s not above playing dirty. But Mallory knows it can never work. She has secrets Law can never understand or forgive.

All Mallory wants now is to finish her job–track down an incubus and the precious box he stole–and get the hell out of town before Law shatters her heart again. But it wasn’t fate that drew her and Law together after all these years, it was cunning calculation. Now they must face an enemy more powerful than they can imagine, one that has no intention of leaving anybody alive.
This blurb came from Goodreads

Every time I read something by Francis I wonder why I haven’t read all of her backlist because I find myself sinking into her writing. The Incubus Job struck me as very different from her titles I have read before and I found it fascinating in general. In a few places the world-building felt a bit confusing but overall I liked the complexity.

For most of her life Mallory made her living permanently removing or ending various supernatural or paranormal creatures and entities against their will. In doing so she was partnered with a more experienced operative, Law, and their partnership turned into a relationship. However Mallory was unable to separate who she was from the sanctioned killing or exorcisms she was doing and when her requests for help were ignored by both Law and their superiors she decided to make a drastic change. She left her job and Law in the past and discovered a new profession as a “fixer” who handled similar problems without killing. However, her new methods resulted in some “additional baggage”.

Over the past six years, Law’s circumstances also changed, I will admit I was slightly confused at how he ended up where he was and what it would take for him to get out of his situation but I was glad to see it seemed to partially be a result of Mallory’s disappearance. Then when Mallory got a new job which placed her back in Law’s territory his reaction when he discovered her and how he tried to juggle his competing priorities was intriguing. His intense feelings towards her hadn’t diminished but he was struggling with additional emotions so he tended ot flip between anger and lust. As the story progressed I think it took him a lot of work to face his role in pushing her to the limit and learn from their previous interaction so he had a chance to have Mallory back in his life.

The relationship was set against the backdrop of Mallory’s case and their past in a very complex world full of magic, spells, rituals, and revenge. Francis included a lot of world-building and something new seemed to emerge with each twist and turn. I appreciated how it was sprinkled throughout but there was a lot to piece together. As a result I did feel like some areas needed further expansion and the resulting read would have been smoother. I did really enjoy Mallory’s “additional baggage” and the resulting combination of perils and benefits. They certainly demonstrated how different Mallory’s life had become since she changed professions.

The crosses, double crosses, twists, turns, and outside influences impeding Mallory’s case and her entanglement with Law were impressive. Francis kept the action going and the stakes rising with each new discovery or reveal. I was worried at different moments about the chances of Mallory living let alone solving the case. Then as things developed, I really wanted answers and became more invested in the why and the resulting impact. Certain issues came to a head but Mallory, Law, and I were left with some unanswered questions and a new set of problems.

I found The Incubus Job an intriguing introduction to a complex world and fascinating characters. Watching Mallory and Law deal with their past and their dangerous future was entertaining. As I mentioned earlier, some elements of this world haven’t completely settled into my mental picture yet but I have hopes the next installment will smooth them out. I look forward to seeing what Francis does to her poor characters next. I am also inspired to go back and check out her backlist again.

I give The Incubus Job a B/B-

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