Clean-freak college student Dani Hashelheim never imagined she’d discover her latent magical ability in, of all places, a bathroom. But when she ducks into the ladies’ room at the library, she’s put in the crossfire between an elderly janitor and a ravenous muck-monster that emerges from the sink. Dani’s previously unknown power manifests in self-defense, and she floods and burns down the library—at the same time. Enter Ben, the janitor, who works for the Cleaners, a supernatural sanitation company that keeps reality tidy and safe...and a company Dani now works for as well, whether she wants to or not. This puts a significant crimp in her dream to attend med school and become a doctor. Nor is Ben happy, since it’s his duty to help Dani adapt to the job and learn to control her chaotic talent before it kills them both. Dani barely has time to try on her new company uniform before she and Ben are hunted down by a cult that wants to cleanse all life from the planet, and believes her power provides the means to do so. While fighting to survive the cult’s increasingly violent recruitment attempts, the pair must battle dust devils, navigate a maze of mystical sewers, face down trash golems—and scrub the occasional toilet.
But boy I am not so sure about execution. Okay so I love urban fantasy, right? And I am ready to gobble up anything that I view as potentially new and interesting development in the genre because after reading so many I overloaded on the same stuff.
This one has a brilliant idea behind it - what if magic in the world was not glamorous and belong to people who do our world's dirty work all the time - to janitors. I was all over this book after I saw it referenced on John Scalzi's blog. So the blurb describes the story well - here we enter into a standard trope of the Chosen one. Dani has her talent waking up while she witnesses Ben fighting the pipes monster and she is recruited by Cleaners - kind of kidnapped really, but she gets the necessity fast. Dani is a Catalist, she can wake up minor natural disasters around her (I have a suspicion as her power grows - not so minor too). It takes some time for her (half an hour? An hour?) to come to gripes with the idea of Cleaners but she does:
"But what if it isn't a prank? The traitorous question slipped in.
Ridiculous, she shot back at herself. No such thing as magic. And even if there was, it wouldn't be wielded by an organization of janitors. In stories, magic belonged to wizards and mages. Powerful individuals who channeled mystical energy through staves and wands-
Like mops, plungers and toilet brushes?
Who commanded the elements of nature-
Like the water and lightning gramps here whipped around the library?
Who fought the forces of evil throughout the land--
Like that sink monster that made you piss yourself?
*******, she swore. I will not lose a debate with my own brain.
How else do you explain it , then smart girl?"
Dany is a germafobe, she cannot interact with the world for too long without thinking about diseases surrounding her and wanting to clean up everything. She wanted to get medical degree to save the world from germs (Reasonable question from her new mentor about how she would actually interact with patients being so afraid of germs gets I guess a reasonable answer that she wanted to work in a lab. Does that mean that she actually wanted to be a researcher? I guess so.
I was actually worried because Dani once thinks about the fact that maybe she was born for Cleaners because she is so afraid of germs and I was afraid that her condition will get "cured" by the end of the book. That would have been so ridiculous, but no, it definitely was not cured - she just learns to manage it a bit better but she catches herself thinking about diseases which may catch her even in the café at her work. She just tells herself to get a grip and hopefully this is something she will continue to struggle with (not because I want her to, but because I hate when mental illnesses get cured in the ridiculous ways even in fantasy).
But what about fantasy plot? See it was fast moving - VERY fast moving, but it was just so same old same old I cannot tell you how much. I mean obviously in UF I expect hero or heroine with special powers, that goes without saying, but certain plot twist reminded of Rick Jordan's books even (just one plot twist), we have ridiculous baddy turning anti hero which reminded me of Toxido Mask lol. Looks like he would be heroine's love interest. Ben, her mentor was very cool, certainly hope he does not die in the next book as mentors in fantasy bound to.