the journeyman book coverReviewed by Caleb Shadis

The Journeyman is the first book in The Commons trilogy. I think it fits very well into urban fantasy, though some may argue.  I’ve read different books about a ‘shadow’ world in the after world of ghosts and this one was very well done with a few original twists of its own.

We meet the orphaned Paul Reid as he leaves the shelter he’s called home for the last several years. He’s 17 and planning on going out to California and never coming back. He uses most of his last few dollars to buy a bus ticket and meets Annie Brucker and her son Zach while waiting for the bus to arrive.

Boarding the bus, Paul chooses a seat near Annie and Zach and listens to Annie as she reads to her son. Periodically, they talk. Unfortunately, there is a terrible snowstorm and a busy body named June is sitting in the front of the bus badgering the driver, rather loudly. Nobody likes a back seat driver and when road conditions are treacherous, having one is even more dangerous.

June happens to distract the driver at the worst possible moment, sending the bus rolling through the ditch on a dark and stormy night. When Paul wakes up, he’s feeling a little battered and bruised. Looking around, he notices military people showing up with guns checking over people. Something seems wrong–why are there people with guns at a crash site? He decides that before he draws attention to himself, he should hide and figure out what is going on. And good thing he does because these people seem to be there to collect everyone, violently if needed.

Paul is noticed as he tries to flee and pursuit commences, but someone is sent to help Paul out and he arrives just in the nick of time. While Paul is grateful for the  rescue, he has some trust issues and an independent streak a mile wide. His guide, Porter, only tells him that he’s on a journey through the Commons to decide his fate.

Things haven’t been good in the Commons lately–someone has been gathering power and putting a stranglehold on it. Hence the black ops paramilitary landing at the crash site. Paul is the first soul to escape the collectors in a very long time and his guide is a bit out of practice, making this Journey much more difficult and possibly wider ranging than any could imagine. Along the way they join forces with a Goth girl, a huge Mummy, and a mute monk with anger management issues.

I really enjoyed reading this book and thought it had some good surprises to offer. This is the first of an upcoming trilogy and I will certainly be keeping my eyes open for the next book in the series. The Journeyman isn’t for everyone but it was well written with a thoughtfully done story line. I look forward to the sequel to see what happens next!

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Book Publicity Services. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.