Saturday, February 27, 2010

Wild Hunt by Margaret Ronald

One of the reasons I started Skunk Cat Book Reviews was to help myself keep track of all the urban fantasies I've been reading in the last year or so. They tend to blend together in my memory and they all have sequels. Margaret Ronald's Wild Hunt would have been a good candidate for me to go back and read my review of the first book in the series, Spiral Hunt--not that I reviewed it, of course, since that was pre-Skunk Cat. That's nothing against the quality of either of Ronald's books; in fact, so far the series is nicely different from the usual urban fantasy fare. I just have a terrible memory.

Anyway, Wild Hunt stands alone pretty well. It picks up a few months after the events of Spiral Hunt. Evie Scelan is still a bike courier in Boston and she's still trying to keep her head down despite her increasing notoriety in the city's undercurrent--the magical subculture. She's an unusual type of magician called a hound, able to trace people and things magically, a skill which she likens to scenting and hunting. In the last book, she used her skills to take down a group called the Fiana; now that they're gone, people seem to expect her to take their place running the undercurrent.

Evie's not interested in taking over--except that she actually is. She wants to keep Boston peaceful for non-mages and mages alike, and she particularly wants to help her friend Nick and his little sister. In fact, that's the main problem with Evie: she wants to help, even if it means putting herself into danger. When an old woman hires Evie to find something stolen by an ancestor, the danger level just goes up and up.

Evie is a likable character, cautious but stubborn. I got frustrated with her sometimes because (unlike many urban fantasy heroines), she's not one to solve problems with violence--no matter how much I wanted her to just hit one or two characters repeatedly with a rock. I also got frustrated with her for missing clues that seemed so obvious that they practically had "CLUE" stickers on them in neon colors.

Evie's relationship with Nick--which is complicated by something I can't tell you about without spoilering it horribly--progresses realistically, which is one of the book's great strengths. The plot twists and turns and the writing is good; I especially like the way Ronald describes scents. The only real disappointment I had was with the ending. The main mysteries of the plot are solved, but nothing is resolved. I didn't really feel satisfied when I finished the book, since it was so much of a setup for the sequel. (And yes, this is something I've brought up several times recently. I don't know if I've just started noticing it or if it's getting more prevalent.)

At least when the next book comes out, I'll have this review to get me up to speed.

B&N link

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