Wild Ways – by Tanya Huff
I do like Tanya Huff’s work – at least the portion of modern urban fantasy I have read (only a part of her published works). One of my favourite books is Summon the Keeper, which hosts hell in the basement of a bed and breakfast.
This post will focus on a different metaphysical charm-worker. Wild Ways is the sequel to the Enchanted Emporium, which introduces the Gale family. And really, after you peel back the layers of magic and fey (which are not offensively used), the banter and the various romantic elements you have a story about family; a slightly twisted and off-kilter family.
Family is at the heart of these stories. Family provides both the antagonists and the protagonists. Sure there are a few non-family elements. In Wild Ways, Aunt Catherine continues to manipulate the Gales into doing her bidding. But there are a few scattered others to act as additional villains: trolls, goblins and ethically-challenged oil corporations.
The focus of the story falls to Charlie, as she tries to find her place in the weave of the family. Being a Wild One means that she is different. Her powers are different and her role in the family is different. It is a difference she has come to embrace, yet on some level she still is struggling to understand her position in the overall whole. Jack, the sorcerer-dragon Gale boy, echoes this struggle as he also is learning what it means to be part of the family and how to cope with that place.
One thing I really appreciate in Huff’s writing is her use of diversity. Her characters have different skin colours, sexuality and power. Her villain is understandable. The motivations of all the antagonists are explained. While their actions might seem a bit over the top, they make sense. I understand why the ethically-challenged corporate president was trying to force an oil well into protected habitat. Do I side with the environmentalists? Well yes. But I completely understand the desperate the woman faced as she tried to do her best by the company.
I like the way the book is set in Canada, without making a big deal about its setting. There is no explanation about how Canadian the Maritimes are. Rather, it is treated as a setting. It adds something to the overall flavour without trying too hard. It is also nice to read about places I have actually travelled to. Since I am not American, I do not have a personal connection to the popular story locations of New York, Washington and wherever else. I have, however, been to Cheticamp and Louisburg in Cape Breton.
I have not, however, followed the Celtic music festival. I suppose that you could also say the book was about the power of music, the potential created when eager and talented individuals musicians come together to enchant the audience (sometimes in the literal sense of the word, other times figuratively).
In short, Wild Ways was a well written, entertaining book. I look forward to reading the next in the series, which I shall hopefully pick up from the library this weekend.