TRICK OF THE LIGHT by Rob Thurman
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Rob Thurman is a fairly new discovery for me. I first encountered her Cal Leandros novel, Nightlife. I was drawn to the book by the cover, which is the same reason I picked this one up off the racks. She’s getting a run of good cover artists.
I thought the Cal Leandros book was well done and even picked up more of them to read. They’re in the stacks, but I’m shifting through things now to line up this year’s reading and those books will definitely make the cut.
Trick of the Light is the first book of a series. The second, The Grimrose Path, is already out and a third one is coming, so the author is banging through her various series quickly. Her newest series is Chimera, and I’ve picked that one up as well, again because of the cover.
The main character in this series is Trixa Iktomi, a woman of many hidden secrets. She’s likeable enough and I enjoyed her narrative voice. She’s a part-time bar owner and part-time demon hunter, and she’s also seeking revenge for her murdered brother. She’s inordinately tough and knowledgeable about many things.
This series somewhat ties in with the Cal Leandros series because Robin Goodfellow features in both. I’m wondering if Robin will ever get his own book because I do find him interesting. But I don’t think I want to see a crossover between Trix and Cal anytime soon. Their worlds can be similar and based on some of the same borrowed and created mythologies, but I want each in their own place. For now.
Thurman has a lot of second-tier characters in this novel and they were a lot of fun. Emotionally dysfunctional Zeke won my heart, though. There something inherently outrageous about his lethal innocence and fractured psyche that I related to.
I’m not sure where I stand on the whole angels and demons with humans caught in the middle war. Seems like a lot of urban fantasy is headed in that direction. It’s a good change-up from vampires and werewolves, which have gotten over-exposed. But I have a problem with these entities being vulnerable to a shotgun blast. Seems like there should be something more powerful involved, or at least magical. As it turns out, angels and demons also shoot and fight as badly as Stormtroopers, which is another problem for me. Again, I would think that a magical charm or armor would be necessary to intervene. Or maybe angels and demons aren’t as powerful as I imagine.
The main crux of the story is the search for the Light, a magical force that is supposed to pre-date even God, angels, and demons. Trix gets caught up in the search and is prepared to turn over the Light to find her brother’s murderer, and she isn’t drawn toward the side of the angels or the demons.
Thurman hides quite a bit of the story for a long time and doesn’t bring it out till the end. I don’t know how she would have managed any other way, but I still couldn’t help resenting the fact – a little – that things came out of left field at the climax. The execution, literally, was interesting, though.
The book meanders a bit at the end, and I kept expecting a “gotcha” along the way. Instead, Thurman just sorts out some of the plot points that perhaps would have been better played out earlier or in the sequel.
Overall, this book is a great read. The pacing and the narrative just doesn’t let up for the most part. Something is always going on. Although there are a lot of characters involved, Thurman paints them all individually so it’s easy to keep them separated.
I liked this one a lot and have picked up the second book in the series. Thurman’s fans will look forward to having their world expanded. Anyone who enjoys today’s crop of urban fantasy will probably have a good time.