Matt Forbeck’s Vegas Knights could be described as Harry Potter meets Ocean’s Eleven. In fact, that’s exactly how it is described on the cover. Unfortunately, it lacks a lot of what makes those two stories so engaging. While the premise starts out with a fantastic amount of promise, hinting at a fresh, exciting narrative, it all too soon goes bust.
The opening sequences, in which Jackson (the lead) and Bill (his best friend and the mastermind behind their scheme), are using magic to fleece the dealers at a Vegas Casino, glitter with all the glitz one expects from a true Vegas experience. The tension, and the poker chips, gradually stack up and the reader is drawn in by stakes high in both a monetary and literary sense.
Then it all goes wrong, for the main characters and for the reader (or at least, this reader). What promised to be a thrilling heist novel, replete with magic, bad guys, and an unimaginable score (who wouldn’t want to knock over a casino?) instead becomes a fairly run-of-the-mill urban fantasy. Our heroes find themselves caught between warring magical factions, with enough power up their sleeves to tip the balance in a confrontation that’s been brewing as long as Vegas has been a gleaming strip of light in the desert.
I had been really looking forward to a magical version of Ocean’s Eleven, but that is not what this novel ultimately delivered. I am not saying that this is not a well-written, entertaining work of fiction. It is. It is very well done. But it had promised to be something different, and, in the end, I do not feel it delivered on that promise.
It’s definitely worth a read if you like urban fantasy, luck magic, or are willing to gamble a bit with a new beach read.