The Enchantment Emporium
Tanya Huff writes quite a variety of books. Some of her books include what I think is considered high fantasy, and others are contemporary fantasy (if that's even a real term - it's real to me!). I wouldn't exactly call them urban fantasy, because these don't really fit the mold. There is magic, strong female characters (but not your average urban fantasy female character) and they are usually set in Canada. Makes sense, since Tanya Huff lives in Canada.
I liked The Enchantment Emporium SO MUCH, THAT I actually sent Tanya Huff an LJ message, telling her how much I liked her book. I've only done that with a few authors. I'm 50 years old, and way too old to be behaving like a fangirly reader! Nope! you won't find ME squeiing all over the internet (except for once in a while, a teeny little squee here and there, but then I'm properly embarrassed afterwards...)
The Enchantment Emporium is a novel with a large cast of characters...but you won't find your-self confused and wondering who is who. The thing is, there is one character that's really a group- The Aunties. They are the matriarchs of the family, and full of legend, strong magic and ego. I love them. At 470+ pages, this is a satisfying and meaty read. Even so, the minute I finished the book, I wished I was still reading it.
There are the Cousins...some are distant cousins, but they're all in the family and very connected to each other. In fact, everyone has a part to play in the regular rituals the family performs. Each of the cousins has their own unique magical gift. Not a lot is explained, and there are no infodumps, rather you learn a bit at a time bits and pieces of what the family does with their rituals, and how they power the rituals, and how they release the power.
The main character, Alysha Gale travels to her Gran's special shop after a family get-together. Later, some of her cousins come to her a bit at a time, but at first she's alone in a big city, far away from her family. This is a big deal, because the Gale family is usually very close and interconnected. In fact, when one of the females moves away, they are usually watched from afar to she if they are going rogue. While Ally at first feels lost without her family close to her, with time her feelings begin to change.
Anyway, Alysha's granmother has disappeared, and while minding the shop, Ally is determined to find out what has happened to her, if anything really has happened. During this time, she meets a man that she is strongly attracted too, meets some fae characters, makes new and strange friends and also begins to question the way Gales have always done things. What's really happening is she's coming in to "her own". The man she meets seems to have a hidden agenda, which Alysha accepts because she does also. She also comes to the attention of some dragons and a sorcerer. Both are ready to cause her severe harm at the drop of a hat, and yet they are also fascinated by her.
The novel had me chuckling all throughout. At the Aunties and their interfering ways, the charms that appeared on and in everything. The Charms themselves were almost a supporting character, it seemed that everyone was using some type of charm, and at times overwriting each other's charms. There were many varied magical items that were fun to read about. Unlike some books, where a quirky item is mentioned, and then forgotten, with The Enchantment Emporium when a magical item is introduced you get to see how it works quite a few times, it becomes a large part of the story.
Alysha ends up having to decide whether to fight off dragons from another world, or to allow them to go about their quest, and the dragons have their eye on Alysha also. Seems the dragons are quite interested in the man that Alysha is attracted to....more would be spoiling the story.
I thoroughly enjoyed the way Tanya Huff presented her characters, her plots and subplots and the way the charms, magic and the aunties were used throughout the story. The narrative was great, and the dialogue was wonderful. A lot of humorous teasing went on between the characters. A very funny, entertaining book about coming of age, female matriarchy, dragons, sorcerers, and relationships. A sequel featuring Alysha's cousin Charlie (a female) is in the works.
2010 Speculative Reading Challenge