Guy urban fantasy novel for the win! Not a bit of softness to this one and it was great. Did I enjoy Child of Fire? Yep. Will I buy his next one (Game of Cages coming out in August 2010)? Yep. So why, those of you who know my Pollyanna-like reading habits might ask, did you like it, oh champion of romances? Because one cannot live on Marshmallow Fluff alone. Sometimes you need ribs and hot wings. First, let me talk about this one from a reader perspective and then I'll tell you why the writer in me thought it rocked.
This was a very involved novel featuring a magical thug, Ray Lilly, and his Very Scary Boss Lady with an uber-delicate name - Annalise. She's even more magical than he is. And scary. Very scary. Like Scary McScary. They're on the trail of someone who's welcomed a predator to our world (not like the movie). Predators are supernatural beasties from other worlds who want access to ours to sate their hunger for... something. Whether their dream buffet involves children, plant life, Circus Peanuts, blood, or DeWalt power tools is dependent on the particular monster, but they're all ravenous for something. Mmmm, power tools.... Ray and Annascary end up in Hammer Bay, town of weirdness. You get a whole town of creepy characters as a cast for this novel, but Harry keeps you from getting confused by making sure that no one has really similar names (thanks for that one!) and by leaving you subtle bread crumbs. e.g. You run into a lady and she's still wearing her diner uniform from earlier, so you can remember that, oh yeah, she was our waitress at the diner! What were the pluses of this novel?
- the plot was engaging if creepy
- the characters distinct and interesting
- the dialog made complete sense
- the emotions were spot-on for the situations
- there was some good humor (I especially liked Ray's smart-ass comments to attackers)
- there was a nice mix of mundane, spooky, and action stuff.
Okay - from a writer perspective, Harry Connolly's novel is an incredible example backstory without the Info Dumptruck. You'll find this out on your own within the first few chapters, and it's not spoiling this story, so let me give you a brief run-down. Ray is a less than sterling character who has a bad history with Scary Boss Lady - he betrayed her for a friend who turned out to be in league with a predator. Ray ended up killing said friend and trying to fix the fall-out, but of course, innocents were hurt and killed, most especially, Annascary's best friend from childhood. He went to prison, and was released for this mission. She HATES Ray now, and wants him D-E-D, dead. In addition, he's sure that someone from the society is going to kill him after this mission anyways because of his past transgressions. He's a dead-man walking with a boss who despises him. It makes for a tense partnership. But never once did you end up with a paragraph like I just had to tell you all this. You get it as the story goes along, in bite-sized doses that kept you waiting for the next helping. Well done, sir! I hope to be able to do that some day.
Anyways, gentlemen, I highly recommend that you pick this one up. I was very impressed. If you'd like to read an excerpt, try his blog here or click the B&N link to the novel above and catch it there.
And for the record, I don't really like Marshmallow Fluff anymore. Circus Peanuts, yes. Fluff, no. Hot wings, yes.