Monday, September 22, 2008

Review: Smoke and Shadows (Tony Foster #1) began with shadows--shadows that seemed to be where shadows didn't belong, shadows that almost seemed to have an existence of their own....Tony tried to ignore it---until he found Nikki Waugh's body...and felt the shadows' touch.... Then shadow cast its claim on lee, and a stunt crash went wrong for no discernible reason, and Tony knew he had to find out what was threatening everyone on the set. And of course, he needed Henry's help...."

Smoke and Shadows, by award-winning Canadian novelist Tanya Huff, is the first book based on the side character, Tony Foster, from the Vickie Nelson Blood series. The setting is contemporary in Vancouver, British Columbia. Tony relocated to the West Coast with Henry Fitzroy, 500-year-old vampire bastard son of King Henry VIII of England, to establish a new life for himself. Once a homeless kid at living on the streets at age 15, Tony returned to school for his GED and has his own place. Now at the age of 23, e landed a job as a Production Assistant at CB Productions for the syndicated TV show, "Darkest Night", a vampire-private investigation series. Surely nothing could have been worse for Tony until the unexpected happened.

He started to notice shadows. Weird shadows that did not belong there. Then the shadow's touch claimed someone's life. Then everyone on the set touched by the shadow started to act weird and/or become injured. Tony knew he had to figure out what was threatening people. Once he realized he was dealing with magic beyond his comprehension, he needed Henry's help. Once Arra Pelindrake, the special effects technician and wizard from another world, told Tony the truth about the situation, he had no choice but to accept the unbelievable. Tony, Henry and Arra will have the impossible task to save the entire world before the Shadowlord destroys everything.

I was very happy Tanya Huff, same author of the Vicki Nelson series, began to experiment with a different genre. I will admit I had little initial interest in wizards. I learned a few things in this new series. Tony Foster is an open homosexual who still acts masculine. It is nice to know that one can be gay and not fall predisposed to stereotypes. I knew nothing about wizardry, but from my perception of Arra, it is not an impressive skill. Henry is still struggling with the knowledge Tony needs to live his own life. It seems Tony and Henry were very close relationship-wise. Tony still remembers Vicki and Michael whenever he needs help with the police from the Blood series. I was happy that Huff uses these references.

I wanted to like this book but it presented many problems. First, Henry Fitzroy is a minor character in this series. Very different if you're used to reading the Vickie Nelson "Blood" books where Henry was a major character. Huff wants to give Tony the center stage, but it's hard to grasp since many fans want to learn more about vampires, not wizardry. Second, Huff tries to hard to make Tony act typical young adult and as a result the plot suffers. I am usually not a stickler for profanity, but it was not necessary. When Tony felt alone, he was right: no one was there to sympathize with him, including the reader. Last, some parts of the book bored me. Since Henry was only active at night, Tony and Arra had the responsibility to take care of evil shadows during the day. Tony is not a particularly interesting person to watch when he fights. The plot as a result suffers tremendously near the end.

I still recommend this book because I have high hopes the next books in this series will involve more Henry and Tony mastering his new wizardry skills. This is my first book on wizardry, and I understand why I avoid this type of genre. Treat Henry as an accomplice and not some type of liability or non-existent character!

Also check out the Vicki Nelson Blood novels (5-6 total). I will need to read the sixth book, Blood Bank, which came out recently. R.I.P. the TV Show, Blood Ties. I haven't heard any updates so I'm assuming there will be no second season.

Stay tuned to the next book in the Tony Foster Wizardry series, Smoke and Mirrors.

No comments: