REVIEW & CONTEST
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People say karma’s a…well, you know. Personally, I don’t think I’m that bad. It’s not like I wanted this job. I wasn’t even in my right mind when I accepted it. Now, I’m surrounded by crazy coworkers like Lady Luck, who’s a bit of a tramp, and Murphy’s Law, who’s a bumbling oaf.
But the worst is Fate. He’s got a problem with transfers like myself and I have to see him constantly. It’s unavoidable, since we’re hunting the same man, my murderer.
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I love the original idea behind Karma by Donna Augustine. For that, the author gets an A+.
The premise is pretty cool . . . Karma, Fate, Murphy’s Law, etc. are all workers from the “other side” who keep balance in the world. When Camilla, a Public Defender, is murdered, she is given the opportunity to become “Karma” and bring happiness to good doers and punish bad ones. Sounds great except her partner, Fate, is far from enamored with his new trainee. Most of the entities have been at their jobs for a very long time. Camilla is a transfer . . . a human who is allowed to join their forces. She’s not any more pleased about the pairing than Fate. What she assumed would be a short tenure with relatively little responsibility becomes burdensome as soon as she and Fate meet.
The workings of the UFU (Unknown Forces of the Universe) reminded me of The Office on television – a blend of dysfunctional personalities who work together but not always happily.
Camilla/Karma was a little too obstinate for my tastes. I like strong, kick-ass heroines but not when I can’t find logic in their actions. I understand her attorney background must have made Camilla question everything . . . but I would have liked her stubbornness based on a fact-finding quest rather than what seemed like a petulant need to disagree.
I also enjoy book series which tie up major plot points before moving on to the next novel. Karma doesn’t exactly do this. Readers are left with more questions than answers.
That being said, do I want to read the next book in the series? Sure, but I would have liked more resolution at the end of this one.
And now the sixty four dollar question . . . can I recommend Karma to fans of contemporary fantasy? A resounding yes. The flaws are minor – nothing a good editing and tightening of the story line couldn’t resolve. It’s a quirky read that will leave you asking, “When is the release date of Book Two?”
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Strong Hold Publishing
Date of Publication: July 9, 2014
Number of pages: 344
Word Count: 72,000
Cover Artist: Donna Augustine
“No. Just you. Everyone has their own department. You are Karma.” He pointed toward me dramatically, the way someone would try and accent a meaning to a person who didn’t know the language.
“I’m not sure I’m adequately suited for this position. Even for a month. I’m more of a “bygones be bygones” kind of person. Don’t you need someone a bit more vengeful?”
He looked down at the file spread on his desk. “I would disagree. Your file said you would be an excellent candidate.”
“May I see that?” I asked, eying up said file on his desk. How much did Harold know about me? Everything? That was an uneasy feeling. Even the best of us had our secrets and even though I considered myself a decent human being, I didn’t think I fell into the saintly category.
The file didn’t look big enough for my entire life to be in it. It didn’t even look thick enough for a short story. Maybe just a highly edited Wiki version?
“No, absolutely not.” He shut the Manila folder quickly, as if I were going to jump up and try to peek. The guy took neurotic to a whole other level.
Okay, the file wasn’t that important. I needed to keep the peace and simply explain in better detail how I’d made an error in judgment. Be nice. My southern mother had always said you caught more bees with honey than vinegar. She had tried to drill it into my head since I was a small child. It wasn’t something I’d come naturally to, that was for sure, but it was a valid tactic, even if that wasn’t the lesson my mother had meant to instill.
“Harold, when I agreed to work for you, I was under the duress of seeing my dead body. You can understand how jarring that can be, right? I wasn’t thinking clearly at all.” It sounded logical enough to me, but I wasn’t sure if he’d ever had the pleasure of dying and his manner didn’t scream naturally empathetic.
He cleared his throat and I could tell by the set of his mouth that I wouldn’t like the next words. “I’m sorry, but that’s not how things work here. Like I told you, there’s a mandatory one-month trial period. An active one-month.”
He leaned back in his chair and pushed his glasses up closer to his face. His almost black eyes, artificially enlarged from the lens, stared at me in a bit of an awkward way. I wasn’t sure if there was a bite to follow up his bark but his magnified beady gaze sure made the situation less than desirable.
Still, beady gaze and all, I had to try one last time. Perhaps a different angle. Regardless of my record, he clearly thought I was an idiot; maybe that was the way to go. I had no problem playing a stooge if it got me out of here quickly.
“As you stated, I’m a transfer. You really don’t want me. I’m a horribly slow learner. The mistakes I’ve made in my life, geesh, you’d squirm if you knew.” I twirled a finger in my hair for effect and wished I had some chewing gum to smack.
“Yes, I’m well aware.”
He was? Hey, wait a minute; I didn’t think I’d done too badly for myself. What were these jerks writing about me in that file?
“Fate will help you with that.”
And just like that, I had bigger problems. I wasn’t just stuck here; I was stuck with him. “The guy who helped me so far?”
“It has to be him.” Harold threw his hands in the air, as if why am I bothering him? Not his orders.
“Then I’ll work alone.”
I’d be clueless but peaceful. There was something wrong about that guy. There was something too bossy or too intense. I couldn’t even describe exactly what it was about him that was too much, but it was.
Even the brief moment I’d actually been in my right mind around him, it was as if his presence exerted some sort of gravitational pull, stronger than a normal person’s. As if his intensity could throw me out of orbit. And I didn’t want to go out of orbit. I had enough things to handle besides ping ponging around.
“Non-negotiable. I’ve got orders.” Harold folded his hands and rested them atop his desk, littered with paper.
“From who exactly?”
“The universe.” His chin notched up a hair.
“Would it be possible to speak to this universe person? I’m sure they’ll understand that there is a personality conflict.” It was time to bump my complaint to upper management.
“No one speaks to the universe.”
“Then how do you know what to do?” I leaned in a little.
“Simple. Through my orders.” His eyes started to twitch.
“Which you get how?”
“Then you can send a memo to the universe. I won’t work with him.”
“I’ll file your complaint but it won’t matter. And don’t forget, as I’ve already explained, it has to be an active month.”
Twenty-five days. I’ve dealt with worse for longer. One case in particular came to mind. The guy actually tried to bite me when we lost. Harold didn’t seem inclined to bite and he didn’t get into my personal space. I could deal with him.
On the other hand, Fate looked like he might be the biting sort.
“Do the last five days count toward the thirty? Time served and all?”
“These first days were highly unpleasant. Do you think I could get extra credit for those? Maybe, I don’t know, you could knock off a day or two? Like they do in jail for good behavior?” He squinted his eyes and tilted his head. I was going to take that for a no.
Donna Augustine’s lifelong ambition was to become the crazy cat lady. Unfortunately, when family allergies cut short her dream of living in a house full of furries, she turned her ambitions toward writing. Combining her love of fantasy, scifi, horror and romance, she tries to string together interesting twists on urban fantasy.
A native of New Jersey, when she isn’t writing, or overdosing on caffeine, she can occasionally be spotted in disguise at the local dog park.