I read the first book in this entertaining series – read my review here – and was delighted to see that the second book was already available. Would it be as enjoyable as The Enchantment Emporium?
Charlotte Gale is a Wild Power – but there’s nothing wild about the life she is living. When her meddlesome aunts start interfering, Charlie ditches her cousin Allie and their grandmother’s Enchantment Emporium and joins a Celtic rock band on the summer festival circuit. All Charlie wants to do is to play some music and have a grand time, but she soon becomes embroiled in a fight between an extended family of Selkies and an unscrupulous oil company willing to employ the most horrific means possible to get what they want, including one of the Gale aunts…
Huff is an accomplished writer with a proven track record and it shows. Charlie is an enjoyable, sympathetic character whose musical talent and magical power are closely aligned, yet there is a sense that she is always slightly apart and underachieving – until the turning point in the book, when she is forced to make some big decisions without the Gale family there to shield her. So is this merely a reiteration of the first book, also about a member of the magical Gale family finding her feet? No – Allie and Charlie are quite different characters and if Charlie works at anything, it is trying to be as non-conformist as possible, while keeping within the bounds of what the Gale aunts stipulate. Only an idiot with a deathwish would completely range themselves against the aunts… Which I love – women of a certain age are all too often completely disregarded in genre fiction.
Not only is Charlie a strong, believable protagonist – there are also a number of entertaining characters surrounding her I really enjoyed. The sulky fourteen-year-old Dragon Prince sorcerer is up there, along with the sultry Selkie Charlie is more than half in love with – but my favourite character is the enigmatic Catherine Gale, the grandmother of the first book who ended up leaving the Enchantment Emporium to Allie before disappearing. I really enjoy those half-absent characters at the heart of stories, who often end up stealing the show despite – or because of – the fact they are always in the shadows instead of the limelight.
The other star of this book is the magical system running through it – urban fantasy is a well-established genre with plenty of interesting variations on this theme. The idea that it is all about bloodlines is a thoroughly familiar one – but I do enjoy Huff’s notion that means all the most powerful magic emanates from family groups, ranging from the dragons of the Under Realm, to the Selkies who come ashore in search of human lovers and husbands and, of course, the Gale family.
The magic works really well in this intriguing, highly readable addition to a solidly good series – and the upside is that Huff is a prolific author, so Book 3, The Future Falls, is due to be released in November.