One in the Hand

by Rhonda Parrish

I hadn’t known there was such a thing as a “cozy” urban fantasy before…but this is what One in the Hand really turns out to be (the cover doesn’t quite promise the right tropes here, although for the life of me I have no idea what kind of cover would promise cozy urban fantasy). This isn’t so much about a kick-ass heroine discovering a magical secret world whilst falling in love with a vampire or a werewolf with steamy times….no siree.

This is the story of a girl in a committed relationship dealing with the potential loss of her Omma (her grandmother) and some secrets Omma’s been keeping from her.

Don’t get me wrong– there is a magical world Autumn Edda is slowly learning to see. The book is Norse Myth-based, and it was really fun to read the signs in the book and slot each character into their proper god/frost giant/dwarven place (although at times Autumn seems a bit too clueless. I mean, if she’s getting wings, it should be kind of obvious what that’s connected to).

But someone attacked her Omma, and her boyfriend is missing, and now she has two giant wolfhounds she has to take care of all by herself. (There’s a lot of feeding “the boys”, taking them out for walks, scritching them behind the ears and whatnot. Thus the “cozy” feel of this book. Very soothing to read. Much of what Autumn does is caretaking so it feels more grounded in day to day reality than other UF)

There’s no steamy times (see: missing boyfriend) and most of the emotional work of this story is Autumn’s inner thoughts (indeed, sometimes I wished there were less summation of important conversations and more actual dialogue). We find out her boss and coworkers aren’t exactly who they seem but in keeping with my “cozy” label everyone except the attacker seems to be caring and attentive to Autumn.

There’s some fun speculation about what the end-game of the Vanir would be in the modern world, some fun Odin, Thor, and Loki aspects, and a modern recreation of the myth about Loki bound helpless while venom is dripped on his head.

Very enjoyable. A tad too short (as usually is my beef with Parrish stories, she tends to cut them off right when things gel together and get interesting) so I can only hope that maybe, possibly, Autumn will get more adventures in another book?