If I were giving ratings out of 5, I’d probably give this a 3 or 3.5.
I picked it up because of the tagline: Some Heroes Prefer the Shadows. It is a dark urban fantasy with a reluctant and flawed hero.
Our hero, Rojan Dizon is a people-finder for hire in the tower city of Mahala. Turns out Rojan is a pain-mage, and his particular powers give him an edge when finding people. But he is a reluctant mage, since he has to hurt himself (or someone else) to use any significant power. Also, he is cautious of the addictive nature of magic power.
This story follows Rojan as he tries to find his niece. He has to come to terms with his power and find balance to defeat the kidnapper.
The setting of the city of Mahala is well constructed and I certainly would not want to live there. Most of the story takes place in an area completely sealed off to protect the rest of the city from a toxic substance (but not really).
I thought this was moderately well written and developed, but I just couldn’t connect with Rojan or sympathize with the victim characters. It was well paced. I’m not going out of my way to get my hands on book 2.