Saturday, May 16, 2009

Review: Smoke and Ashes (Tony Foster #3)

...Tony's been promoted to a Trainee Assistant Director on the show, and he's hoping that the only supernatural events he'll be caught up in are those in the script. But, of course, that just isn't meant to be, for unbeknownst to the young wizard, a Demonic Convergence is about to begin. This will create weak spots around the world through which lesser demons may find a means to enter our world.

To complicate matters, Leah, the incredibly sensual and seductive stuntswoman who free-lances for the show, is in reality an immortal Demongate--or, as she puts it "the oldest piece of magic in the world."

Can Tony--with the help of Leah, Henry, a tabloid reporter, a Mountie, and the cast and staff of Darkest Night-- halt a demonic invasion, keep Leah alive, and stave off the end of the world?

Smoke and Ashes, by Tanya Huff, is the third novel in the contemporary Tony Foster Wizardry series. It began as a spin-off from the Vickie Nelson/Henry Fitzroy Blood books. After battling shadowlords in Smoke and Shadows and surviving a haunted house horror in Smoke and Mirrors, wizard-in-training Tony must fight against demons who want to invade our world. He has been promoted to trainee assistant director (TAD) on Vancouver's hottest cult vampire detective TV show, Darkest Night. Unfortunately, the CB Productions studio is the supernatural epicenter for an upcoming deadly Demonic Convergence. He meets a sensual, sexual stuntswoman named Leah Burnett, who happens to also be an immortal 3500-years-old handmaiden and demongate of Ryne Cyratane, the sex demon that controls her. She seeks Tony's help because she has become vulnerable to demonic attacks.

With Henry Fitzroy, 450-year-old vampire and bastard son of British King Henry VIII, and his mortal companions (Amy, Lee, Jack, Chester Bane and more) to assist him, they must protect Leah and prevent a demonic invasion so large that it could be the end of human civilization. Tony also becomes more mature and comedic as he learns to improve his wizardry spells and techniques in the face of danger.

I was very disappointed with this novel. The previous novel, Smoke and Mirrors, was full of surprising twists and suspenseful moments that I couldn't wait to read the next book in the series. I loved the haunted house storyline. Ashes was so difficult and dull for me to read that I was glad to be done with it. This should have been an enjoyable book but there were some passages that contained dry humor and not enough supernatural excitement. Tony is battling demons, but the demons don't have any unique personalities. The sex scenes are very tame and censored at best. One positive thing that came out of this novel was the personality development of the minor characters.

Although Henry Fitzroy was a major character, he played such a minor role. Huff does not highlight the deep relationship Tony and Henry used to have as former lovers much or how Tony met Henry in the Blood series. However, there is more development in Tony and Lee's growing romantic relationship, so this should please some readers. Another reason why I could not enjoy this book was the numerous references to highly popular epic fantasy movies such as Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. As someone who never watched the films, I knew I was missing out on the humor. While Tony will impress many readers, I am not a major fan of wizardry novels unless it contains a good vampire mystery or haunted house adventure.

I will update this review when Huff plans to add a fourth novel to this series. As of right now, there are only three novels.

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