They say you should never judge a book by its cover. "They," whoever "they" are, might want to add that you should never judge a book by its description, because I didn't have a great first impression of Geekomancy by Michael R. Underwood. At first blush, it sounds almost cynical; "a barista discovers a kind of magic that revolves around pop culture" could have been engineered by a focus group to appeal to hardcore nerds.
However, Geekomancy and its followups proved to be charming and engaging. Ree Reyes is a well-drawn main character, one who could easily come across as a cliché (the snarky, bespectacled cool nerd) but never does. She's drawn into the magical underground of her city when a geekomancer, Eastwood, defeats a monster in front of her with the aid of a Doom Patrol trade paperback. Soon, Ree is learning the ropes, using a lightsaber to take down enemies and watching Sherlock to give her a shot of investigative skill.
The world Ree lives in is well drawn; the city of Pearson feels like a real place, right down to the pizza shops, and Ree's friends and acquaintances are never stock characters. In particular, Drake Winters, a time-lost Victorian gentleman scientist, makes a fine partner to Ree, and their interactions will scratch that Sleepy Hollow itch in readers. The various magic systems in play are never handwaved, either; they make sense. ...a kind of sense.
None of this would matter if we didn't like Ree herself, though, and she's an excellent lead. What I like about her particularly is that she takes to what she calls her "urban fantasy lifestyle" not out of a curse or being forced into it, as happens to so many heroines in this genre; she does it because it's what she wants to do, and there's no question of walking away to protect herself. Ree Reyes is just cool that way. It's also good to see an LGBTQ lead character who isn't fetishized for her sexuality, and her same-sex romance in Celebromancy and simmering crush on Drake both feel natural, and not for the readers' benefit. If that makes sense.
Check out an excerpt from Geekomancy here. That, you can probably judge it by.