Sunday, May 30, 2010

"The Enchantment Emporium" by Tanya Huff

Alysha "Allie" Gale has just lost her position as a research assistant at a museum. She's moved home with her extended family (mostly aunts and female cousins) when she gets a letter from her grandmother, a letter that says if Allie is reading it, then her grandmother is dead. As such, she is passing on her junk shop, The Enchantment Emporium, to Allie; she tells her that it is an important fixture in the community and that the people there need her.

Naturally, Allie doesn't want to believe that something has happened to her grandmother. And there are signs that all is not as it seems; for one thing, where's the body? For another, Allie comes from a family of witches, and none of them have felt the passing of her grandmother. So what gives? Being at loose ends, Allie decides to make the journey west to Calgary and investigate.

When she arrives at the shop, she immediately finds out what "community" her gran was talking about, and it's not the human one. Joe, a rather tall leprechaun, shows up and tells Allie that her gran was a friend to the Fey and others, acting as a sort of post office and supply store. Not long after arriving, Allie notices a huge shadow doing a fly-by during the wee hours of the morning; not a good sign to have dragons in town. Even worse? There's a sorcerer in Calgary as well, one who her gran had to know about but didn't turn in to her relatives. Yes, the witches (or "aunties" as they're referred to) do not take kindly to sorcerers, favoring a scorched-earth policy.

Allie decides to keep her aunties out of matters as well, relying on Joe, her cousin Charlie, her ex-love (who happens to be decidedly gay), and a few others to help her solve the mystery. What really happened to Gran? (general consensus favors death by dragon, as in eaten by one) What keeps pushing Charlie out of the Woods? (a great way to travel, the metaphysical Woods, but only if you can go where you intend to go) What is the great evil that the sorcerer keeps talking about, the one that only he can handle? (it's totally not what you think) Will Allie go to the dark side and keep time with the sorcerer's yummy assistant, Graham? (um, sort of....)

I really, really liked this book, even though there's a lot that's not entirely explained. Huff leaves a lot to the reader's imagination (or deciphering, as the case may be). And some of the actions of the Gale family will not appeal to certain readers. Let's just say they give a whole new meaning to the phrase "one big happy family". But those are piddly details, and certainly not enough to keep me from recommending this work. In fact, I liked it so much I'm hoping that Huff has plans for this to be a series, a trilogy at the very least. There's enough left open-ended that she certainly could write about Allie and her family again. I sure hope so!

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