A standard fantasy plot is the mundane person transported to a magical world, where s/he picks up magic and saves the day. "Awakenings", a noir urban fantasy fusion with mystery elements, the debut novel from Edward Lazellari, turns that standard trope on its head http://www.amazon.com/Awakenings-Edward-Lazellari/dp/0765366312. In this dark fantasy, guards, wizards and the prince of the realm escaped from a war zone in the magical world to our world, but then had their memories wiped. No one remembers their past.
Now, several years later, Daniel the prince is living in an abusive home, Cal MacDonnell, the head guard is a NYPD cop and Seth Raincrest, an apprentice wizard, is a pornographer.
But two sorcerers enter our world to try to find the Prince. The bad guys are led by Dorn, who hires Colby, an indicted dirty copy to find the prince. Dorn proves his evilness immediately by stealing Colby's beating heart right out of his chest in order to "motivate" him to help.
Dorn's minions also go after Cal and Seth and try to kill them. Lelani, a centaur wizard, representing the realm finds and saves them, but not before Seth loses his roommate and Cal his partner. While Cal is accepting and Seth is skeptical, both join Leilani. But Cal is married to Cat, a strong woman, and has a young child, and Seth has made a mockery of his life. Leilani has to convince Cal and Seth to help her find the prince and return to the realm and the first step is to get them and the rest of the guardians to regain their memories. Cal has to deal with Cat's apprehension that her whole life will be turned over. Lazellari pulls no punches about Cal and Cat's growing issues.
Meanwhile, the lost prince Daniel, has to try to deal with his abusive father, bullies in school and saving a girl from a mean boyfriend.
There is plenty of action as Cal, Seth and Leilani look for other guardians and come under fire from Dorn.
This very adult fantasy pulls no punches. Evil is clearly evil. Characters have depth and real human problems to deal with, while trying to come to grips with a life completely forgotten. This is not Harry Potter lite, but Lazellari tells a good hard nosed tale with real characters. The characters breathe on the page. This urban fantasy holds your interest.
It's a good beginning to this series.