Off-Leash by Daniel Potter

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I picked this one up totally on a whim. I wanted a light-hearted, quick listen and that’s exactly what I got. I liked this book for a bunch of reasons and I’ll happily continue with the rest of the series. I think people who like Nice Dragons Finish Last or Hero Forged will likely enjoy this one too. Humor is one of the most subjective things in writing and I feel like this book is in the same category as those two. The audiobook is fantastic and I think it’s one of those books where the audio enhanced the experience for me, which can also be said for NDFL and Hero Forged.

The main character, Thomas, starts out as an unemployed librarian looking for work. He was in a coffee shop one day, admiring the strange old man with his cat for the umpteenth time since they both are regulars at that place, when the both leave the shop at the same time. He walks out behind the old man and the guy gets hit by a truck and is killed. Before he dies he sort of laughs and tells Thomas that he’s got something in the cupboard for him. A cryptic message? Or, a misfiring of the brain upon a traumatic death? Thomas, not knowing magic exists, assumes the guy was just rambling nonsense as he dies due to brain injuries and the whole dying thing. Now, we as the readers are like, “Hey, Thomas, you’re in a fantasy book. I bet that means something!” It does.

That old guy was totally a wizard, and Thomas wakes up the next morning as a mountain lion. To me, it was pretty apparent the author gave a good deal of thought of what it would be like to wake up as another species without warning in a world where magic ‘isn’t a thing’. I loved how he suddenly has urges to groom himself and the inner conflict that causes, the whole thing was pretty funny. There’s time spent on how Thomas has to adjust to his new body and he keeps finding out new things along the way. When he wakes up Thomas is of course startled, scared as fuck, and wondering who slipped him LSD. He didn’t have much time to contemplate his new situation because a talking squirrel and a witch show up to usher him into his new life.

Thomas has crossed over the veil and has become a ‘familiar’, and familiars are typically bound to a witch or wizard for life through an unbreakable bond. It allows for telepathic thoughts, memory sharing, and it’s sold to him as being a good way to start a new life. To both Thomas and the reader it sounds a bit more like slavery. The witch turns out to be bad news bears and he manages to escape and end up with a more reasonable witch who’s agreed to a temporary bond.

The pair of them find out that the old wizard who was hit by a car wasn’t actually hit by a car, it was a murder, and Thomas needs to figure out why before there’s an all-out war. To make things more complicated, he’s been telepathically visited by a dragon who’s begging to be set free. That could prove to be a really good idea, or an incredibly bad idea. The plot sort of takes off from there and the world building expands to include werewolves, the Fae, and internal politics of the wizarding world.

The pacing for this was pretty great – there was never a dull moment, and I cruised through from beginning to end at a pretty even speed. This was also a shorter book, it’s only 292 pages and would be perfect for a palate cleanser after a string of long books. The writing was straight to the point, devoid of any plot wandering or overly descriptive passages. There are scenes that delve into the explanation of how magic does and doesn’t work in this world – so some may feel it drags in those spots. I really like hard magic systems and dig their explanations so this wasn’t bothersome to me.

Since this was written in the first person and was single pov I felt I got to know Thomas really well, and I loved his voice which made this a really enjoyable read. The one thing that was bothering me for the first half of the book was the mystery girlfriend who would stay with him for a couple weeks and then disappear for two weeks and refused to give an explanation. In most real world scenarios this would probably indicate the other person is married or had something going on. And yet, Thomas was like “eh, she can disappear without telling me where she’s going. that’s fine” That was mentioned in the beginning of the book and then wasn’t really touched on again for a while. I was wondering if there was going to be an explanation, and thankfully there was.

Overall, I do recommend this to anyone who likes urban fantasy and is looking for something short and upbeat. Bonus points if you like audiobooks.

Audience:

  • fans of cats
  • single pov
  • first person writing
  • upbeat/light hearted books
  • urban fantasy
  • great audiobooks
  • humor

Ratings:

  • Plot: 11/15
  • Characters: 12/15
  • World Building: 11/15
  • Writing: 13/15
  • Pacing: 13.5/15
  • Originality: 12/15
  • Personal Enjoyment: 9/10

Final Score: 81.5/100 = 4/5 stars on goodreads – recommended !

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