Check out our review of Dead Man’s Hand by James J. Butcher it’s an Urban Fantasy to read if you are in the mood for a debut novel with plenty of magic and action.

Disclosure: I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. This post contains affiliate links. That means we receive a small commission at no cost to you from any purchases you make through these links.



Dead Man’s Hand
by James J. Butcher

The Unorthodox Chronicles #1
Released: October 11, 2022
384 Pages | ebook

read this book if you’re in the mood for
  • some magical witchy action
  • reading a debut
  • solving a murder

Grimshaw Griswald Grimsby is a witch who flunked out of the Auditor training program and now spends his days using what magic he’s allowed to perform at children’s birthday parties. Hard to believe Grimsby is the number one suspect in the murder of the one of the most dangerous witches alive, and who just so happened to flunk him. Now Grimsby has to form an uneasy alliance with the mysterious Huntsman to clear his name and uncover the truth.


As a long time fan of Jim Butcher, James J Butcher’s father, and the Urban Fantasy genre, I was fully on board to support James’ debut novel Dead Man’s Hand. It has all the elements I enjoy about the genre and there were moments of dry sarcastic humor from the protagonist that feels like a Butcher family trait, and I was there for it.

The story takes place in a modern Boston where magic is commonplace, with witches categorized as “Unorthodox” and non-magical folks are “Usuals”. The paranormal community is governed by the Department of Unorthodox Affairs, and the Auditors are the magically elite government-sanctioned witches that are both admired and feared among the Unorthodox, and now they have their sights set on Grimsby.

While the world-building and mystery are engaging, there are times when the storytelling lags, and I found it difficult to remain focused on the material. However, the story is told from the third person POV, which has never been my favorite format because it can take me out of the story at times. So lovers of the first person style be warned.

in conclusion

Fans of Urban Fantasy will enjoy this solid debut from James J Butcher. It’s an imaginative story with a buddy cop feel, and it is evident that Butcher not only took inspiration from his father but is on the path of creating a literary reputation that is all his own.

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