Friday, April 17, 2015


As per my Entertainment to-do post I just finished Tanya Huff's Enchantment Emporium books.  They are delightful.

I picked them up because they were described as urban fantasy, but more importantly the first one was dirt cheap on the kindle.  I thought they'd be throwaway trash, poorly written but a good enough distraction.  I was wrong.  Spoilers ahead.

One of my problems with fantasy books is the very staid, traditional way in which authors write about 'magick'.  You know, they treat it as some serious force where you must understand the power and the responsibilities you wield, lest some horrific thing happen that will doom us all.  Urban fantasy books tend to reference old mystical power, held in the land and start waffling in a self indulgent manner about any old bollocks, where so long as it's traditional it's somehow more important.  The emphasis goes on the magic system rather than the story.

These books, also known as the Gale girls books, I think, aren't like that.  They are very domestic, the magic is used in an everyday manner and the plots and the characters are more important.  The Gales are a massive family of mostly women whose ancestor once shagged a horned God which gave all the descendents power of a sort.  This power is usually expressed in the form of charms - charms to open locks, to wish good health on someone, to eavesdrop on other's conversations, to make good pie, to have a plentiful supply of nappies.  That sort of stuff.  It's also said that the world accommodates the Gales, so if they need a last minute flight there is always room on the plane for a discounted ticket.  If they need to drive somewhere in a rush the lights are never on red.  At set intervals throughout the year the family takes part in ritual, of which there are 4 parts.

The first circle is comprised of Aunties - women who have gone through menopause and becomes more powerful, and one of the males in the family who is the anchor to the land and takes the form of a horned stag.  The second circle is one Gale girl and her partner.  The third circle is the rest of the Gale adults.  The fourth circle is whoevers left and they keep the general public away.

The ritual involves shagging.  It's not explained why it involves shagging, but the Gales do like sex, a lot, and everyone of any age (once they hit adulthood at 15) has a lot of (always consenual) sex. Even the 60 or 70 year old aunties.  They age well.  The books aren't graphic about the sex, the sex details are barely described at all.  Those keeping up will notice that the Gale adults taking part in ritual will be related.  Steps are taken to ensure that no one is shagging someone too genetically close to them, so it's basically a lot of cousins shagging.

Anyway, the books are more about the personalities than the magic, although the magic stuff is fun.  The Aunties are a force of nature and it's unclear whether they are powerful because of the magic or because of their sheer bloody belligerence.  No one gets treated as unique, or special, or the one holder of the powerful magic. They bitch and swipe at each other (and love and care for each other) and it's all remarkably straightforward and family-like, in a good way.

The first book is about Alysha Gale taking over an Aunt's junk shop and working out where the Aunt has gone.  The shop comes with a Leprechaun who promptly gets together with an Auntie.  There's dragons in town and a sorceror who's a bit too jumped up for his own good.  Book 2 sees one of Alysha's cousins, Charlie, helping a group of Selkies stop a gas drill being built.  Book 3 sees the Gales try to stop a massive asteroid hitting Earth.  The solutions in books 2 and 3 and remarkably straightforward and kind of glossed over, but not in a blink and you miss it way.  It's done in a way that makes sense given the style of the books (that don't lend themselves to histrionics, much, unless it's about pie).  It's all rather no-nonsense.

These are great fun and one of the better urban fantasy books I've read.

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