First published in 1989 and taking place in downtown Toronto, one of the earliest of the modern urban fantasies, Gate of Darkness, Circle of Light is the story of a fight against encroaching darkness by a developmentally handicapped young woman, a street musician with no idea of his potential, a bag-lady who's tired of picking up the pieces, and an adept of the light. Mixing actual Toronto ghost-stories with traditional Faire, a police procedural, and a cat, Gate of Darkness, Circle of Light opened a gate at street level to the urban fantasy that followed.
©1989 Tanya Huff (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
This was the third or fourth time I've read this book, and I always enjoy it. It is a fascinating tale of a battle between Light and Dark and the measures each employs. It incorporates many things from children's fairy tales and the creatures in them to various religious traditions, though pagan traditions predominate. It is interesting to watch how each of the characters evolves and responds to the challenges presented.
Woven throughout the tale is Ms. Huff's brand of irreverent and snarky humor that provides many lines that draw a chuckle or a laugh even in the midst of dire happenings. As the tale unwinds, you come to care about the characters a great deal, and you want everything to turn out well for them even though it's fairly clear that such can't really be the case. The ending when it comes is both heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. Good prevails (not really a spoiler since we all know that it will) but not without a cost. Some of the characters have grown considerably by the end, others have simply had their beliefs and values re-affirmed, but none are left unchanged, at least in some small way, by their experiences.
Recommended to all who like fantasy, particularly that with a real-world setting. I'm standing by my intital 5 star rating on this, though my true rating is probably more like a 4.8.
Note: For this re-read, I listened to it in audiobook form, and while the narrator does an acceptable job, there were times when I felt her performance left something to be desired. In particular, in several places there are lyrics given, and she always recites these in a rather flat manner. I wouldn't expect them to be sung necessarily, but they could have been read as poetry with a bit more feeling than she puts into it.
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