"The Future Falls", the third of the Gale Women books, was my favourite so far, mainly because of the focus on Charlie starting to understand what she's really capable of and what this means for her future.
This is not an easy book to classify; this is Tanya Huff, trope twister extraordinaire, so I guess that's not surprising.
Still, how do you classify a book that is, on one level, about a Gale Girl Wild Power trying to save the world from an extinction event and on the other is tale of star-crossed lovers, where one of them is a witch who is already part of a polyamorous relationship and the other flips between being a Dragon and a teenage boy?
I guess, the answer is that you don't worry about classifying it, you just grab hold and enjoy the ride.
The whole story stands in the deeply disturbing shadow of the power and rituals of the Gale women. This book made it very clear that the priority of the Gale women is to protect the Gale family, even if this means treating family members as breeding stock or as power sources for their rituals, or letting the rest of the world's populations die.
Charlie refuse to stay in that shadow. She does what she thinks is right, regardless of the cost to her personally. Her bravery is one of the best aspects of the book. The next best thing about the book is the fast-witted humour, fed by pop culture references to sci fi movies and Canadian pop music.
I really enjoyed Fifth Quarter and I'm not sure why it seemed to take so long to finish it. :) Be that as it may...
This second book in the Quarters series takes on the tale of a pair of assassins, a body-jumper, a family of zombies and a very sad old man. In the story, there are a couple of peripheral characters from the first book (I think that's right - my memory is for shit. *LOL*).
There are adventures to be had, emotions to be uncovered, dangers to be faced as well as a few home truths and I really liked the way it all played out. The main character of Vree was really quite fascinating, I thought, and it was an interesting journey to take with her as her world opens up beyond the army and her assassin role. I'm glad we're going to continue her story in the next book.
I really enjoy Tanya Huff's writing, no matter what genre she's writing in. She has a comfortable, easy way of telling a story that never gets bogged down with extraneous details or literary navel-gazing. I'm glad I have No Quarter in my TBR pile!
"The Wild Ways", the second book in the Gale Women, series was a fast, fun read that had me grinning most of the time.
The experience reminded me of reading a really good Terry Pratchett book: on the surface there is a constant stream of humour, based on word play and the bizarre juxtaposition of the normal with the incredible, flowing around interesting characters with complex relationships to one another that develop over time; beneath the surface, a serious moral undertow grabs at your attention and asks you to consider how you use power to do what needs to be done without power using you.
Not that Tanya Huff is a Pratchett wannabe. She shares his lightness of touch and his feeling for what makes us truly human but she brings a style all of her own. Setting the Gale Women books in contemporary Canada gives an opportunity for lots of local colour about celtic festivals and fiddle players as well as amusing pop culture references (especially the ones that Jack is too young to get).
The story focuses on Charlie, a wild power amongst the Gale family and therefore restless and unpredictable. Charlie has a love for life and the some of the women and men it. Her frustration at meeting a beautiful but irredeemably straight supernatural woman is presented with self-deprecating humour that is quite charming. Her progress to realising her potential as a wild power is disturbing. Her love of playing music (and using it as a magical weapon when needed) is engaging.
The plot is slight and easy to predict but that's part of the fun. It's the ride, not the destination, that is most important here.
I'm hooked on this series now, so I'm not waiting, I'm moving straight on to book three in the series "The Future Falls".
This book reminds me of salted caramel ice cream: the soft smooth sweetness grabs your attention and delights your tongue, but it's that grain of salt, hinting at something earthier and less conventional, that makes it addictive.
In some ways, "The Enchantment Emporium" is a paranormal romance wrapped around the mystery of a disappearing Auntie. There's a feisty, literally charming heroine, with a recently broken heart and an all-consuming family; an attractive, mysterious, potentially lethal.male stranger, a Scooby-gang of leprechauns, fey, witches, and family members with very large...horns, facing off against dragons that, in their human form, have killer cheekbones.
We could almost be in Half Moon Hollow except, beneath the cosy but casual sex and the pop culture references to Star Wars and Firefly, Tanya Huff has created something alien and darkly dangerous: the Gale Women.
At first I thought of the Gales as a particularly large, rambunctious family of witches, with a tendency towards charming but harmless eccentricity. It took me a while to realise that the Gales are not really human, nor are they really individuals in the way I'm used to thinking about it. They reminded me an ancient forest, each tree proud and strong but connected by roots and tendrils that mean that they can best be understood as a collective entity.
The Gale women are enormously powerful. The Gale women outnumber the Gale men. The Gale women manipulate the breeding lines to keep the family strong. The Gale women become more dangerous and more eccentric as they become Aunties.
Once I understood that the lethal, alien, power of the Gale women is the grain of salt in this ice cream, I realised that I wasn't reading a paranormal romance. There is no romance here: sex, ownership, even a little love, but no romance. This is the story of a Gale woman coming into her powers and forcing some new shapes into the pattern woven by the family.
"The Enchanted Emporium" was a fun read from the first page, where I was dropped, with almost no explanation, into the chaos of a large unconventional family and left to enjoy working out what the hell was going on. I'll be visiting the Gale women again very soon.