Book Review: The Middling Affliction (Conradverse Chronicles #1)
How’s your Juneteenth weekend going?
I hope you’re finding something fun to do while staying cool. As a lover of fall and winter, this heat is killing me! No swimming for me yet, but it’ll happen soon for sure, maybe with margaritas!
Anywho, you know the drill. It’s book review time!
This time I read The Middling Affliction (Conradverse Chronicles #1) by Alex Shvartsman.
I originally learned about this book through a new bookish pal of mine, Brittanica Bold’s Babblings. She’s got a nice range of book interests (check out her site, it’s very cool!), and the superhero theme of this one just blew me away, so I begged my library to buy a copy of this book for me.
Other than Brittanica’s review and others from GoodReads I went into this fairly blind. So, did this book kick some serious butt or was it a stinker? Keep on reading for the review!
What would you do if you lost everything that mattered to you, as well as all means to protect yourself and others, but still had to save the day? Conrad Brent is about to find out.
Conrad Brent protects the people of Brooklyn from monsters and magical threats. The snarky, wisecracking guardian also has a dangerous secret: he’s one in a million – literally.
Magical ability comes to about one in every 30,000 and can manifest at any age. Conrad is rarer than this, however. He’s a middling, one of the half-gifted and totally despised. Most of the gifted community feels that middlings should be instantly killed. The few who don’t flat out hate them still aren’t excited to be around middlings. Meaning Conrad can’t tell anyone, not even his best friends, what he really is.
Conrad hides in plain sight by being a part of the volunteer Watch, those magically gifted who protect their cities from dangerous, arcane threats. And, to pay the bills, Conrad moonlights as a private detective and monster hunter for the gifted community. Which helps him keep up his personal fiction – that he’s a magical version of Batman. Conrad does both jobs thanks to charms, artifacts, and his wits, along with copious amounts of coffee. But little does he know that events are about to change his life…forever.
When Conrad discovers the Traveling Fair auction house has another middling who’s just manifested her so-called powers on the auction block, he’s determined to save her, regardless of risk. But what he finds out while doing so is even worse – the winning bidder works for a company that’s just created the most dangerous chemical weapon to ever hit the magical community.
Before Conrad can convince anyone at the Watch of the danger, he’s exposed for what he really is. Now, stripped of rank, magical objects, friends and allies, Conrad has to try to save the world with only his wits. Thankfully though, no one’s taken away his coffee.
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This superhero novel blew me away!
I’m new to Shvartsman’s work, but after reading this I am very impressed and can’t wait to continue this epic journey in the next book.
Our main character is Conrad Brent, a middling who uses magical artifacts to pose as a gifted with powers like his friends at the Watch. Together, they stop any disruption to the average human being’s life, and he’s been able to fly under the radar for years by being careful with his secret. But when a chance to rescue another middling like himself arises, Conrad embarks on an epic journey that not only endangers his life, but those of the entire gifted community of New York and the world at large.
Pretty much everything worked for me with this novel.
First and foremost, I’d say the world this novel is set sold me right off the bat. Middlings, gifted, gods, monsters. You name it, this world has it, and while we don’t get all the deets up front, Shvartsman gives us enough of an understanding to hook the reader. I wanted (and still want) to explore this world and soak up as much info as I could.
Conrad is a fun main character. He’s snarky, opinionated, and scrappy, three things I love in a character. He often says things at the wrong time or in the wrong way, but that endeared me to him even more. I even loved all the cheesy superhero one-liners (that’s going to be a thing in pretty much any superhero novel you read).
There’s also a lot of great supporting characters. The fellow members of the Watch were cool, especially Terrie. Willodean and Herc were also fun to follow along with as well.
The plot was bananas and filled with action in every chapter. Conrad’s quest seems simple at first, but it grows with each development, ending in something extremely epic and entertaining. I’m holding back at saying any more than that because I don’t want to spoil anything, but if you’re a superhero adrenaline junkie, this is a great pick for you.
One thing I did want to see more of was pauses between all the action. Each chapter is so crazy, we don’t really get much room for Conrad to breathe and get the perfect amount of depth. We do get plenty along the way, but I think it would’ve been a smidge better if things calmed down just a bit more in small spots.
All in all, this was a great started to a promising series, and I’ll be counting down the days to the next installment. Definitely give this book a chance!
That’s A Wrap!
Well that’s it for this book review. I hope you enjoyed it!
Have you read this book? Are there other similar books you’ve read that you simply have to gush about? Feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to start a conversation!
Have a great day!