From the blurb:
Matthew Baxter wasn't marked by destiny; he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. But mysterious forces beyond the ken of mortal man have exploded into his formerly tedious life, a world he never knew existed is fighting a war he doesn't fully understand, and like it or not, Matt's right in the middle of it.
The sides are unclear, and the line between good and evil is both fine and blurry. But with several factions hunting his new companion and the mysterious amulet in her possession, there's no time to be picky about allies; the best he can do is watch his back and hope he's picked the palest shade of grey.
Matt is nobody's knight in shining armour. Ariana Lestrange is nobody's damsel in distress. And this is no fairytale.
Contains examples of:
- Action Girl: Ariana, after a somewhat shaky start.
- Action Mom: Maeve Lestrange.
- Action Survivor / Badass Bystander: Subverted when it turns out that Matt is actually a reservist and Iraq veteran.
- Anti-Villain: Kylestra treats her Mooks with respect, whatever else she might be.
- Chekhov's Gun: That amulet will turn out to be quite important.
- Combat Pragmatist: Few of the cast are averse to dishing out a knee in the stones or employing the first available blunt instrument in a tight corner.
- Cool Car: Matt and Ariana acquire an Escort RS Turbo in Chapter 5. Would be an Impossibly Cool Car if Ariana hadn't looted the keys from their owner's corpse.
- Cool Guns: The Fair Folk have the budget for some very good-quality hardware.
- Cute Bruiser: Suffice it to say that being an enthusiastic equestrienne means Ariana is quite a bit stronger than she looks.
- Damsel in Distress: Ariana for about the first page. Then she gets an opening...
- Disappeared Dad: Subverted somewhat for both protagonists. Ariana's dad ran off with the au pair, but she's shown no evidence of abandonment issues. (See below.) Matt's father died of natural causes a few years before the events of the series, but he's done his grieving and moved on with his life.
- Fantastic Racism: More like Fantastic Class Snobbery really.
- Genre Savvy: Pretty much everyone, protagonist and antagonist alike. Matt even has a moment of clarity in Chapter 1 that verges on (Wrong) Medium Awareness:
- Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex / I Dont Want To Die A Virgin: Matt and Ariana in Chapter 5. They've just survived one spirited attempt to kill them but they're far from out of the woods yet, so it's a bit of a toss-up which trope it falls into.
- Hand Cannon: The Awesome, but Impractical machine pistols Matt and Ariana pick up in the first chapter.
- Hollywood Tactics: Played straight in Chapter 1, justified by hubris and lampshaded by the boss of the Private Military Contractors. Subsequently averted completely.
- I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Averted; Matt and Ariana have both been taught how to handle a weapon properly.
- Indy Ploy: Pretty much everything Matt's done so far. "Oh, Crap! what the hell do I do now?" is almost his Catchphrase.
- Living in a Furniture Store: Matt's initial impression of the LeStrange family's townhouse in London. Turns out to be justified; they only use the place for entertaining and the occasional overnight stay.
- The Masquerade: Enforced; see below.
- Military Brat: Subverted; Matt's a fairly average, emotionally healthy young man who had a close relationship with his father in spite of said father being a sergeant-major in the Parachute Regiment.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: Ariana's previously unmentioned magical abilities have got the heroes out of two awkward situations. Lampshaded by Matt in Chapter 5.
- No Scope: Subverted. He doesn't have time to set up a proper shot through the scope, so Matt uses the backup iron-sights on top of it.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Septimus MacCready's Upper-Class Twit persona, though to what extent he is consciously playing the part is unclear.
- Oh, Crap!: At least once a chapter on average, but the one in Chapter 4 when Matt realises there's a car-bomb big enough to level most of the street parked outside his house is probably the best.
- Pants-Positive Safety: Matt keeps his sidearm tucked into his waistband for lack of anywhere else to put it for a while, but gets a proper holster at the first opportunity. He also has enough sense to engage the safety.
- Psycho for Hire: Lady Kylestra effectively runs a temping agency for them.
- Rare Guns: The machine pistols again, with the difficulty of obtaining ammunition referenced briefly.
- Also, the rifle Matt starts carrying from Chapter 3 onwards. It's an FN CAL, of which relatively few were made. note
- Weirdness Censor: A variation that renders all fae The Nondescript to most humans. Compared explicitly to the Somebody Else's Problem field generator from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and it's suggested that "Faesight" might not be hereditary, but actually a result of said trope becoming too egregious.
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Averted in Chapter 1; the good burghers of Wellingborough should find it fairly easy to pinpoint the scenes set there.
- Wire Dilemma: Spectacularly averted in Chapter 4, in a scene that also averts Every Car Is a Pinto.