Book #review – SLEIGHT OF HAND by Mark Henwick #UrbanFantasy #vampires #werewolves #witches


So here I am, catching up on my reviews again.

I started out reading this book, but was then offered the audio version to review, so switched to listening.

The only other audio book I’ve heard was the first part of THE LORD OF THE RINGS, narrated by Ian Holm, so this was a bit of an adventure (!) and also research, as I’m considering audio versions of my own books.

So without further ado, here is my review:

Sleight of Hand (Bite Back, #1)Sleight of Hand by Mark Henwick

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was my second Amber Farrell story, as I started out with the prequel, BITE BACK, so I already had some of the set-up and an insight into Amber’s character before I began listening to the audio book.
In a genre filled with kick-ass heroines, Amber stands out as having real reasons for being the way she is: ex-military special ops, with a unit that suffered a traumatic disaster leaving Amber the only survivor – and she’s not unscathed. I’ve seen a couple of reviews criticising Henwick for ‘not understanding how to write a real woman’. All I can say is, they are so wrong I think they must be fans of the type of female who wants to find a strong man to surrender herself to. Amber is strong, yes. She’s physically capable, yes – but wouldn’t you be if you had her background? She’s also insecure behind her facade, with the sort of multiple issues that plague real people.
She’s an emotional mess, immersing herself in work while stressing about the fact that she’s probably turning into a vampire – sorry, ‘athanate’. Actually that’s a great name which translates to ‘undying’ as opposed to ‘undead’.
She works as a PI, and her latest client is suing her over a debacle for which he blames her; the military are keeping a close eye on her in case she ‘turns’; her sister’s getting married and old family tensions are rising; Amber’s latest client, the fabulously wealthy and apparently generous corporate exec, Jennifer Kingslund, wants a little more of the ‘personal touch’ than Amber is expecting; she’s being pursued by an officious military busybody trying to strip her of her army pension, and her assistant turns out to be a witch with – oh no, too much information; you’ll have to read it to find out.
As if all that was not enough, the local Athanate want to reel Amber in, and involve her in their deadly politics.
I listened to this recording on a couple of long drives, as it is quite a long book. There are certainly enough story threads to support the length, and plenty left dangling for the next one while still wrapping up the main plot of this volume in a thrilling shoot-em-up rescue. I found the sections of necessary ‘info-dump’ to be well handled – there is a lot to understand about the Athanate and their culture, and the conversations in which this info is imparted came across naturally, as we learned right along with Amber.
At first, listening to the narrator was a culture shock for me. I am British, as is the author, so the US accent took me by surprise. It shouldn’t have, as the story is set in Denver, but there you go. Once I grew accustomed to it, I appreciated the way in which the narrator used clearly different tones and accents to distinguish the characters – a great help when listening whilst concentrating on driving a large horse truck along the motorway.
I’d highly recommend this book for lovers of urban fantasy (not paranormal romance), strong female leads, character development, action, and stories with large scope. It’s well edited, well plotted and well presented. I look forward to reading the next one – I don’t have any long drives in the offing, so back to the kindle.

And my conclusion:
Except in special circumstances (such as this long motorway drive), I don’t think audio books are for me; if I have enough spare capacity to listen to narration, I would sooner use it working (in my mind) on my own plots.

I do, however, know plenty of people who like to listen to lots of audio books, so getting my own recorded makes sense.

Yet another thing to add to my ‘to do’ list…

How about you – do you like to listen to audio books, or are you a confirmed text reader?




  1. The Chaos Realm · · Reply

    I listen to audio books on long road trips!


    1. Aha, good to know. For me that’s probably the only time I would listen, but it’s also my best plotting time, so perhaps not…


  2. How do you like audio? I have Outlander by Diane Galbaldon on CD. I read it back in 1991 when it first came out, and I’ve read all but the last in the original book series. I like audio in the car, but still prefer to put my own spin on the written word. It’s the actress in me, I guess. lol


    1. Ooh, me, me too – actress must run in the red-head genes 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely! I act out all the scenes and dialogue in my books. lol

        Liked by 1 person

  3. […] You can see my review of SELIGHT OF HAND, Bite Back book 1 audio book here. […]


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