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“The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.”
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Magic Breaks
Ilona Andrews
The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel
Helene Wecker
The Wild Ways - Tanya Huff Is it fair to compare one work against an author's entire body of work? I think so, but not everyone agrees. A. Lee Martinez discussed the "not their best work" review at http://www.aleemartinez.com/bestish/blog/14082012/ Ultimately, had Huff not impressed me with the first in the Gale series, The Enchantment Emporium, I would not have been so disappointed in the sequel. This was not her best work--it wasn't even in the top three runners-up.Charlie, the wild Gale sister, is playing in a band when she starts to get an intuitive tingle. The band is about to hit the road so her itchy feet dovetail nicely with the band's plans. The band stops back at home to refuel and Charlie returns to Allie, Graham, Jack and the new family circle in Calgary. Jack is fourteen and struggling to find his place in the family, knowing the Aunties would rather he was dead. There's a brief enjoyable family interlude where we get to visit some of the characters from the prior book. Meanwhile, Allie's wild grandma is off creating trouble that seems designed to pull Charlie out of Ontario and to the coast. Strangely, Charlie's old Celtic band calls looking for her, and her magic tingle tells her she ought to accept. Completely coincidentally (and if you believe that...), the lead singer's fiance has lost something very important to her, a "family heirloom" that she desperately wants to retrieve. Aunt Catherine seems to be causing trouble, dabbling in oil politics.Problems include a general lack of cohesiveness, partly due to narrative and partly due to plotting, and an environmental theme that is anything but subtle. There's an alternating narrative that includes the Head Villain and Henchman Number One which is ultimately needless. We know they are villains because the H.V. runs an oil company and likes fur, while the H.N.O. is motivated by pay. The split narrative seems to be creating humanity in the antagonists, but any subtlety is lost by the end. It becomes a very pointed environmental morality tale with clearly defined 'good' and 'evil.' A few short chapters relate Jack's viewpoint, which does create a distinctive voice for him, but becomes perplexing because it isn't integrated well. His viewpoint serves to demonstrate his adolescent frustration and is vaguely interesting when he has to save the day but. End of the day is saved by a big fat use of magic, which seems a giant plot cheat.The Wild Ways is not Huff's best work. If I were to rate it on my enjoyment scale, I'd give a '3.' Against most urban fantasy, I'd go as high as '4.' Against The Enchantment Emporium it runs a '2.' While I generally like Huff's work, this was a far cry from her best.