Friday, May 7, 2010

Trick of the Light

Trick of the Light
Written by: Rob Thurman
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Roc
Language: English
September 2009, $7.99
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Book One of the Tricksters

Now you see it....Now you don't....Now you're history.

There are demons in the world. Monsters. Creatures that would steal your soul. You might hide under your covers at night and pretend all's right with the world, but you know. Even if you don't want to admit it...

Las Vegas bar owner Trixa Iktomi deals in information. And in a city where unholy creatures roam the neon night, information can mean life or death. Not that she has anything personal against demons. They can be sexy as hell, and they're great for getting the latest gossip. But they also steal human souls and thrive on chaos. So occasionally Trixa and her friends have to teach them some manners.

When Trixa learns of a powerful artifact known as the Light of Life, she knows she's hit the jackpot. Both sides-angel and demon-would give anything for it. But first she had to find it. And as Heaven and Hell ready for an apocalyptic throwdown, Trixa must decide where her true loyalty lies-and what she's ready to fight for. Because in her world, if you line up on the wrong side, you pay with more than your life...


Why did I pick this up? The cover and perhaps the title. I think I expected the back blurb to read like most urban fantasy these days based on the cover. These urban fantasy books have covers that usually depict a hot chick with a weapon of some sort looking all broody like. The heroines are usually plucky, snarky and no doubt torn between equally brooding vampire hunk and werewolf hunk. But the back cover didn’t mention anything about sexy sexy vampires. Okay maybe there were some sexy sexy demons, but I am okay with a bit of sexual tension and even a little smut provided it does not take up half of the chapters and overshadow a plot (Hamilton anyone?) or perhaps even try to mask that there is no real plot. I like plots. Storylines and character development make me happy. Sorry, I digress. Anyway, the back blurb had me intrigued so I did my usual first page perusal. Was it enough to make me pick it up? Yep. I was hooked enough to shell out my hard earned money.

The story really is simple. Trixa and her rag tag little family fight demons or at least wreak havoc enough to get their panties all in a bunch. Trixa has her bar, enjoys her business or secrets…life is good. But then something pops up on her radar, the Light of Life, and it proves to be something that both Heaven and Hell would do anything to get their hands on. Of course that makes the Light absolutely priceless and Trixa is just the right person to make both sides run, run, run.

So while yes our heroine is plucky, snarky and likable despite her flaws. And she does have them. Despite taking in a couple of ‘strays’, who by the way are completely adorable, she is driven by one thing…revenge. And while yes there is that aforementioned sexy sexy demon lets face it if Johnny Depp or Hugh Jackman were fallen winged hotties who were promising me a whole lot of something something I’d have trouble forming coherent sentences let alone resisting any sort of offer or bargain they were making. Same goes if said demon was Nathan Fillion, James Marsters, David Tennant, Ryan Reynolds or James McAvoy shaped. My list could go on forever because I have no willpower what so ever. But, I am getting distracted again. Surprising, I know.

So yes Trixa is full of black humor and sarcasm, has a past, wants revenge, but has a big soft spot for those she cares about. The other characters are equally entertaining. Leo is just as full of politically incorrect and subversive snark, Lenore needs to be my new pet, Zeke’s worldview does not allow shades of gray and because of that he is like a child despite being able to hurt someone with his pinky, Griffin is like the older brother/good angel on the shoulder (which is funny when you think about it) to his friend and well we all know how I feel about our lovely sexy sexy demon. Beyond the characters I liked the story. It kept me turning the pages. While it slows down a bit in the middle, I didn’t mind the change in pace a bit.

A Brief Excerpt: To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. I’d read that in a book once, a fairly famous one. Right now I was going with the time of reaping. Fire had been sown and fire would be reaped. Now. By me, personally. Why?

One: fire burns. Fire destroys. Fire cleanses.

Two: fire also drives up your insurance rates like crazy.

Three: it was deserved. Oh yes, it was very much deserved.

And how do I know this? A lot of ways, but mainly because I know there are demons in the world. Monsters. Creatures that would steal and eat your soul. Devils that would….

Wait. You’ve heard this before, right? Seen the movies. Read the books. You might hide under your covers at night or avoid the deepest shadows of the darkest alleys and pretend all’s right with the world, but you know. I don’t need to tell you. I don’t need to show you the light…or the dark.

You know.

Like me, you know. Even if you don’t want to admit it.

Chicken shit.

But that’s okay. Since I knew, I could personally pitch a Molotov cocktail with grim glee at a nightclub that sat halfway between the University and the strip, an area otherwise and ironically called Paradise. No hiding under the covers for me. I knew about what hid in the dark all right and there was nothing I enjoyed more, at least tonight, than watching some son of a bitch demon’s club burn to the ground. Demons in Paradise, could they be more smug?

It was six in the morning and empty. The last drunk had staggered out twenty minutes ago into the November dark morning. Frying patrons wasn’t part of the agenda and it wouldn’t do the demon or his demon employees much harm even if they were standing in the middle of it, not if they changed from human form back to the genuine article fast enough, but I still enjoyed it. Girls, you get your kicks where you can.

And this was a kick. I inhaled the fragrance of burning gasoline, felt the hot wind lift my hair, and the thud of the ground under my sneakers…my normal high heeled boots were out for this one. I also felt the adrenaline squeeze my heart, pump my blood faster and faster. Damn, I loved that feeling. I looked up at the faintly orange sky because Vegas was never dark, fire or not. We were a sun all our own. The smell of smoke and alcohol, the sound of shattering glass as the bottles smashed through windows, and the glorious red and yellow of leaping flames.

“Beautiful,” I murmured, feeling the sear of heat against my face. It didn’t touch the heat of satisfaction inside me.

“Not without its charm,” Griffin commented dryly next to me before turning and following me. “You and your hobbies, Trixa.”

Things I loved: Without giving anything away, and yet in saying just that if you have not read the book you will keep a watchful eye out, I knew there was more to the story, more to the characters and that everything would probably live up to the namesake of the book as a whole. I knew about one of the tricks of the light early on or at least heavily suspected due to my love for mythology and things were too coincidental, but others had me wha-whating, but not in a bad way. In fact now I want to know where everything would or could go from this point on. There are a lot of clues if you look just right, though admittedly they may not add up just the way you thought they added up in your head.

I have talked to a couple of other bibliophiles who didn’t quite like how things turned out in the end simply based on the first person narrative. Shouldn’t it be that we know exactly what is going on because the story is told from the main character. For me it works. Trixa never really lies, but the Trick of the Light gimmick works. It is all about misdirection, making even you the reader ponder what the heck is really going on.

I did enjoy the expansion of the heavy urban fantasy world that Thurman has created with her other series the Cal Leandros series. It makes the world richer and fuller, Plus how could you not love seeing Robin’s name in there. Kind of made me all giddy like. Maybe some warm fuzzies.

Things I didn't love so much: Maybe the ending is a bit too slick, too many reveals in such a short amount of time. Ok when I saw maybe a little bit I mean we all know there is probably going to more. Series rule these days and it is rare that you get one offs any more which is a double edged sword in my opinion. One if you dig the characters and you know that you can see growth in all sorts of areas, yeah you get more. On the other hand many novels sometimes skimp on all of that with the excuse…there’s going to be more don’t worry. I do think Trick of the Light was a bit too tidy, but I wont hold the last 25 pages against the whole. I just don’t think that authors should be afraid to leave a little up to imagination, to slyly drop hints but maybe not give you all of the answers. It was one of the reasons I really enjoyed the Forest of Hands and Teeth a few months back because it left me with as many answers as questions and even if there wasn’t a recently published sequel I would have been happy with just that. Anyway, I did like the ending because now I want to go back and read it again to see if I would pick up on more a ha moments.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. If you like Cal and Niko I think you would like more of Thurman’s work. For me it was worth my hard earned money and I think I am going to keep it which says a lot since bookshelf space around here is vanishing. If anything head to your local library and give it a go.

Part of: a Series. The Grimrose Path, Book 2 of the Trickster novels will be released later this year.

Also Recommended: The Cal Leandros series also by Rob Thurman, The Menagerie series by Christopher Golden or the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews.

3.75 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

Have your own review? Let me know and I will post it.

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