Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Cursed by Benedict Jacka

Once again, I'm torn trying to decide if this is a Harry Dresden ripoff, a tribute, or something new and different. Jacka writes well, and is entertaining, however, so I suppose it's best to avoid invidious comparisons and just get on with reading his Alex Verus series.

Perhaps the best plot synopsis can be found in the text of the novel, itself.

"I needed to figure out who was trying to have me killed, and why. I needed to find out more about Belthas (one of the White Council Mages who hires Verus to locate some dark magicians performing a forbidden ritual) and Meredith (a lovely on the outside lass who manages to cloud Verus' mind with her charms) and what their goals were. And I needed to do something about Luna and Martin and the monkey's paw."

That last bit can be traced to the story Monkey's Paw by W.W. Jacobs with which any student of weird fiction should be familiar. The monkey's paw of the tale grants its holder three wishes, which always seem to end badly for the wishee. Luna's boyfriend wannabe, Martin, absconds with a monkey's paw from Alex's shop and uses it to gain some important magic powers, believing that the ordinary rules can't apply to him, since obviously no one as smart as him has ever held the artifact. Hmmm...something familiar there...(whispers) political?

In the end, of course, it does end badly for Martin, even though the paw doesn't really have to twist his wishes, he gets exactly what's coming to him.

There's a great little comic series of pastiches on customers in Alex's magic shop, followed by his speech when he meets Martin.

"I don't sell spells, and I don't sell tricks. I don't carry illusions or marked cards or weighted coins. I cannot sell you an endless purse or help you win the lottery. I can't make that girl you've got your eye on fall in love with you, and I wouldn't do it even if I could. I don't have a psychic hotline to your dead relatives. I don't know if you're going to be successful in your career, and I don't know when you're going to get married. I can't get you into Hogwarts or any other kind of magic school, and if you even mention those sparkly vampires I will do something unpleasant to you."

One of the fun themes in this book is that the "good guys" don't always turn out to be good, and that Alex once again has to ally with the "bad guys" to thwart the latest power-mad mage's schemes.

Putting the next book in the series on my hold list.

No comments: