Oct. 21st, 2009

reileen: (reading - books)
Sexy, smart Trixa Iktomi runs a profitable a bar in Las Vegas, dealing in more than just booze. For the past couple of years, she's been specializing in the information trade on both the mortal and immortal ends of the spectrum, hoping to find some clue as to the identity of the demon who murdered her younger brother, Kimano. When she hears of a powerful artifact known as the Light of Life, she knows she's got the ultimate bargaining tool for use in getting the details that she wants. First, though, she has to actually find the thing. And then she has figure out what side - angelic or infernal - she's on in the end, because neither of them are gonna let her walk away with the Light of Life.

I'm a big fan of Thurman's Cal Leandros series, so when I spotted this on the shelves of the DePaul B&N a while back, I was expecting good things from it. Trick of the Light features a witty, sharp, sarcastic narrative voice (told in 1st-person from Trixa's POV) that's characteristic of the Cal Leandros books. Unfortunately, it feels as though Thurman fell a little too much in love with Trixa's voice, because gurl howdy the narrative infodumping was over nine thousand. It starts right in the first chapter, as Trixa and her two demon-hunting wards, Zeke and Griffin, burn down a nightclub owned by a demon that pissed off Trixa recently. I really wanted to like Trixa as a strong and unapologetically self-assured female protagonist; I can sort of forgive Trixa's excessive smugness and vanity as a result of a certain spoiler (which shouldn't really a be too much of a spoiler if you just stop and think about things for three seconds), but I think part of what breaks the character for me is that she doesn't have the same sense of vulnerability that, say, Cal Leandros has. Snarking as a defense mechanism is easier to grasp; snarking because you're Just That Damn Good is a lot less charming. I mean, yes, I know she's devastated over losing her younger brother, but it simply didn't resonate with me. Part of the problem is, as I already hinted at earlier, Thurman's tendency in this book to tell more than she shows. As a result, the effects of Kimano's death on Trixa come off as distant and stilted - as though Trixa wanted revenge because that's what she should want, rather than what she actually wanted.

Zeke and Griffin are definitely my favorite characters. Both of them are orphans who were discovered by Trixa some years ago rummaging around in the garbage near her bar. She gave them jobs, food, and a place to stay, and now the three of them are as close as family (...although Zeke likes to casually flirt with Trixa, lol). Zeke's a trigger-happy sociopath who's trying (...sort of) to feel what "normal" people feel, while Griffin acts as Zeke's conscience. The interaction between the two is a joy to watch unfold, and there's a really satisfying payoff in the end, involving both a sort of predictable progression of their relationship but also a really interesting twist on their origins. They kind of remind me of Nick and Alan from Sarah Rees Brennan's The Demon's Lexicon, although I think Zeke and Griffin are on more equal terms than Nick and Alan are.

Overall, though, I was pretty disappointed with this book. I kept getting annoyed with Trixa as narrator, and I was bored silly by the whole Light of Life plot - which is sad considering that it's pretty much the main plot of the novel. (And really, could you come up with a more generic name for an artifact? Yeesh!) I have to admit that I didn't see the twist with Zeke and Griffin coming, and I enjoyed that greatly, but like I said those two are my favorite characters in the book. There's a hint of some overlap with the Cal Leandros storyverse, though (Trixa mentions a certain Robin Goodfellow that she knows back in New York), so I may continue picking up subsequent books to see what Thurman does with that. And of course I'd love to see what happens to Zeke and Griffin.

If you're new to Thurman's work, stay away from Trick of the Light and stick with the Cal Leandros novels.


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Reileen van Kaile

April 2010


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