Review: Tombyards & Butterflies
Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Tombyards & Butterflies (Montague & Strong Case Files #1)Tombyards & Butterflies by Orlando A. Sanchez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a fast, fun fantasy that I'd recommend for fans of the Nate Temple, Harry Dresden, and Iron Druid series. It has all the hallmarks of a standard urban fantasy novel -- fast pace, lots of action, short quippy dialogue, humor, paranormal/supernatural investigations, and bad-boy heroes with dark pasts. If you like quick adventure stories with a lot of banter, this is your jam.

The Characters:
This book centers around two friends who run a business (and possibly live) together. The main character and narrator is Strong, a gunslinger cursed with immortality. His sidekick (and I think the more interesting of the two) is Monty, a powerful mage with a very clouded past.
For the most part I found the characters engaging. My main complaint would have to be the heavy-handedness of their humor. I was knocked out of the story on more than one occasion when the author broke the flow of a scene to get in some extra snarky dialogue. This made the characters come across as long-winded, oblivious to their surroundings, and especially in the case of Strong, too flippant to be believable. I'm all for witty characters, but there's a fine line between witty irreverence and buffoonery. These guys would have come across better if they were toned down a tad so I wasn't so often rolling my eyes after an exchange.

The World:
In the world of this story, supernatural beings seem to be both known to exist and somewhat obscured. There is a policing agency that seems specifically designed to handle supernatural threats and there are several references to a supernatural war that happened at some point in the past, yet it's unclear if regular people are aware of the many strange things in their world.
The structure of the world's supernaturals seems to be based loosely on standard Earth mythology focused mainly on the Greek myths with vampires and werewolves thrown in the mix. Overall I think the author did a good job of creating a rich world, though there were a few details about the world's history that I would have liked to know to anchor me a little more.

The Writing:
Sanchez writes with a short, fast sentence structure that keeps the story clipping along at a good pace. He excels at punchy descriptions that convey just enough info without breaking the flow of a scene. There were a few instances where I was knocked out of the story because I wasn't quite sure what the author was trying to say, but for the most part the writing was easy to follow. As I mentioned above, Sanchez went a little overboard on the witty dialogue exchanges in places, seeming to put a scene on hold while Strong and Monty chatted about random, often inconsequential topics.
There were also a few inconsistencies and occasional plot jumps that required a bit of mental acrobatics to follow and knocked me out of the story. For example, approaching the climax of the story both Ramirez and Corbal say they won't help Strong, but then they turn around and do it anyway with seemingly no shift in motivation. Also, chapters 31 and 32 cover almost exactly the same ground in slightly different and mildly contradictory ways, giving me an odd sense of deja vu and once more knocking me out of the story. It was almost as though Sanchez wrote two versions of a scene intending to choose one, but then put them both in the final book.

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