Guild of Tokens by Jon Auerbach

Jen Jacobs is wading into a real-life quest game… a long-distance relationship and her not-so-satisfying video game coding job has left her without a lot of fun in her life. A mysterious email offers Jen a chance at tokens, “leveling up,” and that dopamine hit she’s been looking for. The quests are a bunch of weird odd jobs at first, but after some investigation, she discovers that there is a guild behind these tasks – and the real job description should be: gofer for magical spell ingredients.

Auerbach gives the reader a character who is torn between so many rocks and hard places: shallow friends and a selfish mentor, an absent boyfriend and her questing obsession. These quandaries send all her over NYC and through several black portals… it might be to gather a certain type of fruit, an antique timepiece, or shovel-bludgeoned rat. Once she dips in the magic herself, she finds a world that is enticing yet dangerous… compelling, yet infinitely more ties to money and history than she ever thought, and speculating as to the ultimate purpose of the questing

Guild of Tokens is an inventive urban fantasy that is rife with fun, quick pacing, and morally grey characters. With references to The Matrix and Alice in Wonderland, this is a piece that is self-aware and has chosen an engaging tone, that is at once lighthearted and a serious look at relationships and life. Auerbach tells part of the story through a leap-frog plot device. He tells a little concluding plot point and then backs up to relate how the characters got there. It’s a good way to tease the reader and it definitely got me involved.

Jen’s introduction to the world of questing is a risk… a parting of ways from the steps she is taking in the ‘real’ world to live a “normal” life… Will it be worth it? Read Guild of Tokens to find out!

4 out of 5 stars.

Thank you to the author for an advanced copy for an honest review.

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