The Gale family can change the world with the charms they cast, and they like to keep this in the family. Alysha Gale is tired of having all her aunts try to run her life, both personally and magically. So when the letter from her Gran arrives willing her a "junk" shop in Calgary, Alysha jumps at the chance. It isn't until she gets there that she realizes her customers are fey. And no one told her there's trouble brewing in Calgary - trouble so big that even calling in the family may not save the day.
©2009 Tanya Huff (P)2010 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
"Fantasy buffs will find plenty of humor, thrills and original mythology to chew on, along with refreshingly three-dimensional women in an original, fully realized world." (Publishers Weekly)
I've enjoyed Tanya Huff's work for years, and as usual, this was a fun urban fantasy story with quirky characters that frequently made me laugh out loud.
There are two big objections I saw in the other reviews that made me hesitant to buy that I wanted to respond to:
1.) The narrator: I'm sorry to agree, but I really wish there were another reader. There are some things she does wonderfully. She voices the Aunties beautifully, but she's uneven. Many other aspects of the pacing & narration were just flat, leaving me a bit confused as to what was going on. Several times something big had happened & I had no clue & had to back up a bit because there were absolutely no vocal cues.
That said, it wasn't enough to stop my enjoyment of the book, but enough to bug me from time to time.
2.) The Gale Family relations/incest: This gave me pause before buying, and I was leery going in, but in the context of the story it makes sense & isn't actually disturbing. (And believe me, I get wigged pretty easily by the topic - it's hard to read the word incest without an assumption of sexual assault and THAT is not my idea of fun reading.)
The Gale family is different. Alien. (Not as in they landed from outer space, but for all I know...) Not entirely human, with different rules and codes governing their behaviour that strikes me as reminiscent of some kind of wolf pack or minor fey court. If you're familiar with Tanya Huff's other work, then you can rest assured that the incest theme isn't like those in Fifth Quarter, in which it did thoroughly skeeve me out & kept me from enjoying the story. If it was a purely human family, it might've bothered me more, but the way their family is run reminds me a fair bit of royal dynasties - cousins marrying cousins to keep the blood pure. Only with inhuman pheromones & different standards. Really different standards.
Which is to say that if you're usually squeamish about such things, you don't need to let the other reviewer put you off.
I love this book and have read it many, many times. I purchased the audiobook so I could listen to it on a roadtrip, but the narrator is just horrible. For example, there are several occasions where the narrator reverses the voices in a conversation, most memorably in a conversation between Allie and David near the end of the book. As it is written, it's perfectly clear. As it is recorded, it makes no sense at all. Odd words are emphasized in many, probably most, of the sentences in the book. Pauses are inserted where there's no cause for them. This is honestly the worst narrator I've ever heard. For this book, buy the hard copy.
Tanya Huff greatly expands the concept of Maiden, Mother, and Crone, to say nothing of seventh sons, horned gods and very intelligent dragons Also the next time I go to a second hand store I will be very careful where I put my hands. In this emporium enchantment is to be taken literally.
I will buy and listen to any book with Tanya Huff's name, and I am so gland I chose this one.
I'll say right out that I loved the story. Though previous reviewers have been negative about the essentially manipulative and incestuous nature of the Gale family, it should be noted from the start that the family is set up as being Not Human. They are presented as having their own internally-consistent behavioural code. The reader (listener) is left to make up his or her own mind about it. I don't think I'd ever want to deal with them in real life, but reading from a safe distance is really fun. The story is engaging urban fantasy with a great sense of humour.
Unfortunately, the narrator, through no real fault of her own, kind of makes it impossible for me to listen. Until I'd got about halfway through, I couldn't put my finger on what was irritating me, and it wouldn't really have mattered if the book were set in the US or had been written by an American - but that's really it. The narrator speaks American. The pronunciation of certain words was consistently off - the name "Graham" is in the States pronounced "Gram", and by most Canadians as "GREH-am", for example. In the name "Calgary", the second syllable is usually only barely skipped over, and "Cal-guh-ry", as in this narration, is a highly unusual pronunciation.
These, I could live with. But the EMPHASIS -onthewrongwords- DROVE -meinsane. Maybe someone else wouldn't have noticed, but the narrator CONSTANTLY stressed the wrong words in a phrase - likely only "wrong" from a Canadian standpoint, but hell, the book is Canadian.
I don't really blame the narrator. If I (a born-and-raised Canuck) didn't realise it until halfway through the book, how could she? Otherwise, her narration is really good. She differentiates the characters' respective voices in really interesting and novel ways, and her diction is clear and precise. This is just a warning to the other Canucks out there - if that's likely to annoy you like it does me, you might want to give this one a miss.
If it won't, dig in!
First, let me say that I love this book. I've read it countless times. When I saw it was on Audible, of course I picked it up. It's a mark of how much I love the story, that I didn't return this book after the first listen.
I can grit my teeth and ignore the fact that the narrator mispronounces some words.
I can grind my teeth and ignore the fact that she uses accents inappropriately. (The fact that the Kenny is described as Asian doesn't mean he has a thick "Asian" accent, especially when the author doesn't mention any accent for him at all.)
I can almost ignore the fact that she pauses in strange places, as though doing an homage to bad Shatner impressions.
But I hate that she uses the wrong voice for a character. There are multiple places where she attributes the sentence to another character, despite clear indications from the author. Where was the director for all of this?
I really enjoy this urban fantasy and have read the book more than once. While the story is about a very different family that happens to have unconventional sexual mores, it is not at all explicit. The narrator did accents fairly well, but read the book rather than narrating it. Her intonation was often flat and she emphasized the wrong words, often making it harder to understand the meaning. She also mispronounced a few words, which I would have forgiven if she had actually done more than a flat reading of the story. Towards the end she even mixed up the male and female voices for half of a conversation. A couple of times her accents carried over into the next person talking. While I love the story, the narration was a big disappointment.
Tanya Huff is an amazing author. She successfully floods her books with nuance and emotion. And her worlds are flat out fascinating.
Anything to do with interacting with the dragons
Anyone in the world would have done a better job of narrating this book. She was obviously "reading" the book aloud, rather than telling the story. It was obvious she didn't understand any of the action or interactions. And many of the voices she chose were flat out irritating.
I love this book with a passion. It's funny and resonates with me on a personal level. The reader made me grit my teeth constantly.
Buy the written book. Read the written book. Send Teri Clark Linden on to different books where she, hopefully, will do a better job. (It would be hard to do a worse job.)
I thoroughly enjoyed the story, although I found some of it a bit uncomfortable (the relationships between everyone - although, maybe if you go with the theory that the Gales aren't human, it works a bit better.) Nothing really complicated or twisty about the plot, but enjoyable nonetheless.
I think that this book was average. I was a little creeped out by so many cousins "hooking up." If it wasn't for that I would give it a good. Thankfully, these scenes are not graphic and so I could just think "ick" and go on. The book had funny parts. Nice Joss Whedon and Jim Butcher references. I would read another title by this author. The narrator is also just ok. Her voices were not distinct. So, I would give it a mediocre rating all the way around. But, it was fairly light and worth the credit.
I just saw that Tanya Huff's second book for the Emporium series is coming out in November. I am so excited. I love Huff's characters and her style of writing. She writes a story about the Fey in modern life and makes it very original and fascinating.
The main characters are funny and likeable, and love's course certainly doesn't run smooth - it's a great long yarn of a tale which will happily fill a few long journeys. I loved the central device of the abandoned bric a brac shop and actually would be really pleased if Tanya Huff was to write some more stories, perhaps jumping off from magical objects found in the shop. That's a measure of a good book to me - do I like the characters enough that I'd spend more time with them? And in this case...yes, definitely!
"Good - nice slow build to an involving plot"
I enjoyed this - got a bit confused with all the names at the beginning (you can't flip back the page and check with an audio book!), but I got there, and I knew from other reviews that the start built slowly, which it does, so I was ready for that.
This book offers nice, strong, capable but not ballsy women, with strong and capable men who aren't threatened by them; some nice dry humour; a suitably nasty baddie with some ambiguously are they /aren't they other baddies (or not) thrown in, and a nicely developed romance. I was, and still am, a tad unsure about the underlying mythology of the family, and didn't really get what happened to David at the end - methinks the editors pen cut a bit deep there.
I thought it ended it bit fast, all that slow build gone in the last hour and a bit, but that's not to say I didn't really enjoy it.
Well read with a variety of accents, some better than others - can't judge how the Canadian ones went, but the English wasn't bad, and the Irish was only a tad 'oirish an' bejabers' at times!
One I'll certainly listen to again, and one I'll probably track down in print to read - I have several other books by this author that I rate.
"Confusing but worth the effort."
I had to go back over the beginning of this a few times to get my head around it. That may have been the book and it may have been me but either way it was worth the effort. It was fun and fast moving if a little sexually uncomfortable at times. I’ll definitely be listening to more by this author.
Great book funny and riviting entertainment with some unpredictable outcomes, thoroughly enjoyable :) Would recommend for anyone looking for and entertaining read.
"Very well performed"
The performer made this book much better than it could otherwise have been. The story itself is a bit lacking, however the writing style, humour and much of the world created make this a fun and interesting listen. If your looking to be entertained this can definitely do that but if you're looking for a well constructed urban fantasy plot possibly not. Over all I enjoyed it and don't regret purchasing it.
"Pleasant Urban Fantasy"
A better than average story centered as much around the characters as the fantasy. my biggest complaint is when the producers of audio books start the "closing credits" music before the story ends. When one is wearing earbuds it is easy to think the music is coming from somewhere else and get distracted by trying to find its source.
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