Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Enchantment Emporium by Tanya Huff

The Enchantment EmporiumEither it's a strange coincidence, or it's just my week to read books with a heroine named Allie. In between Allie Beckstrom books by Monk, I begin reading a new novel by Huff and the protagonist is Allie Gale, a member of a very strange family from rural Canada. Huff begins with and maintains a little mystery about what's really going on in this one. We meet the Gale family as they're preparing for a ritual in the woods, and, from a not-so-casual observer, we see that the men of the family sport somewhat spectral antlers during the ritual. Are they shapeshifters, or what?

The Gale family (no relation to Dorothy from Kansas) is ruled by the Aunties, who may or may not have supernatural powers; it's a little vague at the beginning. Allie's grandmother, who technically was one of the Aunties, has been away from the family for a long time, and when she apparently dies, she leaves control of her junk shoppe in the big city to Allie. Allie leaves the family farm and heads to Calgary, where she finds out quickly that Grandma's shop is more interesting on the inside than outside. The merchandise in the shop ranges from the mundane, like boxes and boxes of yoyos, to the macabre, like the monkey's paw with one wish left on it.

The shop also serves as a mail drop for some of Calgary's denizens who aren't exactly Canadian citizens, a variety of shy and magical immigrants from the Under Realm. While Allie is getting a handle on the business end of things and looking into her grandma's disappearance, she gets tangled up with some interesting folks, such as a too-tall leprechaun named Joe, a tabloid reporter named Graham, a sorceror named Stanley, and a baker's dozen Dragon Lords.

This novel moves along steadily and enchantingly, with lots of interesting characters, dialog, and a great sense of humor. I've liked Huff's writing for years, and she may have the beginning of a wonderful new series here.

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