The Middling Affliction (#1)

Next: Kakistocracy (#2)

The Dresden Files meets American Gods in New York City.

Conrad Brent protects the people of Brooklyn from monsters and magical threats. The snarky, wisecracking guardian also has a dangerous secret: he’s one in a million – literally.

Magical ability comes to about one in every 30,000 and can manifest at any age. Conrad is rarer than this, however. He’s a middling, one of the half-gifted and totally despised. Most of the gifted community feels that middlings should be instantly killed. The few who don’t flat out hate them still aren’t excited to be around middlings. Meaning Conrad can’t tell anyone, not even his best friends, what he really is.

Conrad hides in plain sight by being a part of the volunteer Watch, those magically gifted who protect their cities from dangerous, arcane threats. And, to pay the bills, Conrad moonlights as a private detective and monster hunter for the gifted community. Which helps him keep up his personal fiction – that he’s a magical version of Batman. Conrad does both jobs thanks to charms, artifacts, and his wits, along with copious amounts of coffee. But little does he know that events are about to change his life…forever.

When Conrad discovers the Traveling Fair auction house has another middling who’s just manifested her so-called powers on the auction block, he’s determined to save her, regardless of risk. But what he finds out while doing so is even worse – the winning bidder works for a company that’s just created the most dangerous chemical weapon to ever hit the magical community.

Before Conrad can convince anyone at the Watch of the danger, he’s exposed for what he really is. Now, stripped of rank, magical objects, friends and allies, Conrad has to try to save the world with only his wits. Thankfully though, no one’s taken away his coffee.


"[Shvartsman] delivers a laugh-out-loud, snarky adventure, throwing out pop culture references and wry observations with dizzying frequency.... His supernatural New York City is vibrant and authentic, and Conrad fits right in with wisecracking fan favorite heroes like Harry Dresden and Simon Canderous. The result is a thoroughly satisfying romp."

Publisher's Weekly

“Few books strike that balance so well, delivering laughter and smiles inside a story that feels like it matters. . . . Readers looking for an entertaining read that will stick with them afterward will not be disappointed.”

New York Journal of Books

"In a magical world of demons and wizards, only the Watch exists to make sure that everyone plays nice. But our hero is the only member of the team with no magical abilities; just guns and tricks and an endless supply of nerve and bluff. The Middling Affliction is a fine mixture of magic and mayhem, topped up with enough movement to keep the plot boiling. It's always a pleasure to find a fantasy that hasn't forgotten how to have fun, while still employing bad guys ready to play for all the marbles, and a hero who knows how to be the real thing when the chips are down."

Simon R. Green, New York Times bestselling author of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

"This book never goes where I expect it to, and that's a good thing. It is utterly charming, which I mean in several ways."

Steven Burst, New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Jhereg and Dzur

"There's nothing middling about The Middling Affliction. Shvartsman delivers real magic, action and surprise twists, nicely seasoned with laughs. You're going to want more."

Esther Friesner, Nebula-award winner and bestselling author of Warchild

"For a completely enjoyable fantasy this novel satisfies on all counts. Exceptional writing and a bristling imagination bring Alex Shvartzman to the forefront!"

Reader's Entertainment

"All in all, this was a great started to a promising series, and I’ll be counting down the days to the next installment."

Jonathan Pongratz

"This is a fun book if not a deep one. It moves forward at a relentless pace"

Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine

"The Middling Affliction is a strong entry in the urban fantasy genre, one that I greatly enjoyed the whole way through. It is perfect for anyone looking for more of that type of book."

Warped Factor

"The Middling Affliction kicks off a new urban fantasy series, The Conradverse Chronicles, steeped in the tropes of the genre but also subverting/tweaking them. The mix of standard UF components – snarky but genuine narrator, city’s character playing a key role in the way the story unfolds, lead and supporting characters with secrets to reveal – with Shvartsman’s trademark humor make for a package that feels familiar but new at the same time."

Anthony Cardno

"Full of humor, magic, and suspense – I didn’t want this one to end. And the finale was exciting and unpredictable."


"The Middling Affliction by Alex Shvartsman is a wonderful opening to the Conradverse Chronicles....Shvartsman’s world begs to be explored to see more magical creatures, more vampires, more wizards, and more middlings."