Book Reviews

Review: Off Leash (Freelance Familiars book one) by Daniel Potter


I received a free digital copy of this book via NetGalley for a review.  ‘Off Leash’ by Daniel Potter is a fun and interesting fantasy novel aimed at adults, here is my review:

Thomas, an unemployed librarian, witnesses the tragic death of his elderly neighbour. The next day he wakes up to find he has four paws, fur and realises he’s turned into a cougar! Determined to get his human body back he enters a new world of magic, talking animals and strange creatures, will his world ever be the same again?

‘Off Leash’ is the first book in the ‘Freelance Familiars’ series. I have to admit that being a cat lover, I was instantly attracted to the idea of the story where the main character turns into a cat, be it a large cougar. The book told in the first person throughout is easy to read, having me interested from chapter one. The story follow Thomas who wakes to find he is a cougar and this alone was fun to read with the character learning how to deal with simple tasks such as opening a fridge or using a toilet which aren’t so easy when you don’t have thumbs! As the story progresses we learn about the magical world that Thomas has become a part of and what has caused his transformation.

Although this book reads well and I do like the story as a whole there are aspects of this book that just didn’t sit right with me. The basic story is a bit of an adventure tale, with Thomas coming across lots of different characters. I enjoyed the parts where he and O’Meara are a bit hazy when they meet properly and work together. I also enjoyed his whole experience of learning to be a cougar and the odd humorous moments. However the story was never overly dramatic and the ‘big finale’ of the book felt a touch disappointing as I expected more to happen. There were a lot of simile sentences (showing how something was like something else) which didn’t bother me at first but became very noticeable towards the end. The overall plot though was very good and I kept coming back to the book excited to read more.

There are a couple of drawings in this book, the last one making me smile at the end of the story. It’s a shame there weren’t more images though as one random picture in the middle felt out of place and I expected more, or none at all for a novel. The book doesn’t have any sex except for mild references of being in bed with someone, but it does have swearing in it. The swearing isn’t very frequent, use of the B, S and F words however it’s the first time I’ve read a book where I really felt the swearing didn’t fit. Characters didn’t swear throughout, in fact very little really, and a dramatic ending led to no swearing where something less dramatic earlier on did. It felt like the swearing was added for effect as an after thought and didn’t feel consistent with the characters. Another reason I feel like the swearing doesn’t fit is that the overall story is never really gory. In fact this story feels like it could fit well for younger readers especially teens, but the language might turn some teens and adults away.

Despite my criticisms I’d definitely recommend this book. It was certainly compelling to read and I loved the last chapter and overall ending. This is a really great fantasy book and a good read for anyone who enjoys a world of magic and talking animals however I think this will appeal more to people who like animals, especially cats, than others. I can’t wait to read book two!

Rating: 4.5/5

Review published on Goodreads, click here

Author’s own website:

Book blurb:

Pet or Predator?

Thomas just wants a simple, stable existence, but saddled with unemployment, an absentee girlfriend, and the impending unpaid rent, change is hurtling down on him whether he likes it or not. Following the sudden murder of his strange elderly neighbor, He awakens on wrong side of the Veil transformed into a mountain lion and thrust into a dangerous world of magic. Does he have what it takes to survive on his own? Or will he be collared by an eager magi?

Thomas must team up with a disgraced Inquisitor and a pyromaniac squirrel to dodge the fate pushed upon him by haughty mages, manipulative union leaders, and violent werewolves. Does Thomas have the will to take control of his life through wit and claw to become the first Freelance Familiar?

Off Leash is the first book in Daniel Potter’s Freelance Familiars series, a humorous adventure story beset by immoral mages and fast-talking animals. If you enjoyed the Dresden Files and want an overtone of Discworld, you’ll love this rollicking urban fantasy adventure.

Dig in your claws, brace for impact and buy this story right now!


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