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Book Review: Any Minor World

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For Roy Mackey — a recovering addict who makes his living as an unlicensed PI and occasional muscle for hire — tracking down a dead writer’s final manuscript should be a walk in the park. Too bad his client is a phony, the dead writer is a thief, and shadowy men are watching his every move. All clues lead to a canceled pulp-adventure comic, The Midnight Jury, and its mousy, reclusive author. Lucy Langenkamp is living a quiet life as an art restorer in Las Vegas; when Roy helps her escape from a crew of armed kidnappers, she’s as baffled as he is.

Then one of her own characters, a flamethrower-wielding “human exterminator,” steps out of the pages of her comic book and into the real world. He’s intent on hunting her down, and he isn’t alone. The pulp villains spawned from Lucy’s childhood imagination are coming to life, searching for their long-lost author. Her most sinister creation, the Illustrated Duke, has a dark plan in motion.

This is a job for Lucy’s two-fisted vigilante, the Midnight Jury. But the Jury is missing. To save the day, Lucy and Roy must descend into a noir-drenched nightmare city on a rescue mission. The walls between fiction and reality are shattered, there’s wild magic in the air, and it’s up to two unlikely heroes to risk it all and save the day.

Title: Any Minor World

Series: The Midnight Jury #1

Author: Craig Schaefer

Page Count: 353

Genre: Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Noir

Rating: 4.5/5.0

Date Read: March 2nd, 2024

Any Minor World by Craig Schaefer was my fourth and final full read planned for the second round of SPSFC-3 competition. The ratings, scored and thoughts below are of my own and in no way reflect team Peripheral Prospectors or judging for the competition in general. As this round is fully under way I just want to express my favorite part about these events. The chance to discover authors and stories I may never have come across without it.
I’d also like to point out that all four of the books our group was assigned for the second round were very different from each other. I’m not sure I’ve ran across that from groups in the past when assigned reads like this. For me this kept things fresh and allowed each of the stories to stand alone and present their own unique qualities.
The pacing was fast but smooth in this read. I once again had the benefit of an immersion read both via Kindle as well as the audio version narrated by Susannah Jones who did an excellent job bringing this story to life. As creative and odd as this story was, I don’t have much bad to say regarding the layout and how it was presented. No issues with names of characters or places that tripped me up. We do have a good number of characters but I never felt overwhelmed. Each character seemed unique and well fleshed out. Again Susannah’s narration helped give each character their own feel as well.
The world building was nicely done. I believe this was my first read where a character/author’s imagination was actually populating and directly affecting the worlds. I would assume this isn’t the easiest thing to achieve. The first part of the book definitely seemed like we were being tossed into a rather dark world with peril around almost every turn. Well, things don’t get much better for our characters as things unfold. As a reader though, it only got more and more interesting.
I feel the character development might be this book’s strongest aspect overall. As I mentioned we have quite a few characters to keep track up and I felt we got to know quite a bit about each of them whether they were a protagonist or antagonist. We have several that fall in both categories and a couple that might fall somewhere in the middle even. Without giving away spoilers I will say one of my favorite takeaways for this book and story is that each of us have different levels of heroes and villains within each of us.
All in all this was a solid read and I have enough fun with it that I’ll be keeping an eye on where The Midnight Jury series goes from here. Again, this is a read and author I might never have come across without the opportunity given to me with judging for SPSFC-3.

World Building 4/5
Pacing 4/5
Character Development 4.5/5

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Chad Barnard

Owner/Operator of The Hiking Reader Blog. Sharing thoughts on books and hiking trails and trying to find ways to continue to incorporate both hobbies together.

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  1. I’m currently part-way through this one, but I’m really intrigued by where the story is going. Agreed, though—I’m glad that this one was part of our team’s semifinal slate, because I don’t know that I would have picked it up on my own.

  2. Great review!

    Discovering new authors and books that are outside my usual reading genres is definitely one of the best parts of judging this competition!

    1. I have trouble thinking how narrow my reading choices these days without competitions like this or the community in general that gets authors and books on my radar.

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