Friday, April 13, 2012

Right Hand Magic by Nancy A. Collins

Right Hand Magic by Nancy A. Collins is another entry in the urban fantasy market. It has paranormal romance elements as well as urban fantasy, but only rarely strays into paranormal romance territory and the human protagonist’s love interest is not a werewolf or a vampire (werewolves do make an appearance, but no vampires as yet), but a magical race called Kymerans.

What attracted me to the book, normally any mention of paranormal romance is enough to steer me in the opposite direction, was the premise that there is a borough in Manhattan which is specifically there for magical races to live in, Golgotham, the setting of Right Hand Magic, is not unlike Fabletown in the comic book series Fables, one main difference being that no one knows Fabletown exists, whereas Golgotham is actually tourist attraction. Where else can you see leprechauns rubbing shoulders with dryads or take a old fashioned cab ride from a genuine centaur?

The fact that very few humans live in Golgotham is largely what attracts trust fund baby and metal sculptress Tate to the area. She rents a room in a house owned by an attractive Kymeran named Hexe, who practises a beneficial form of magic known as right hand, as opposed to the left hand kind which puts curses and the like on unsuspecting people. From the moment Hexe appears at the door to answer Tate he has love interest written all over him and that’s the way it goes, but along the way to romance for Tate and Hexe there’s the bust up of an illegal fighting ring run by a vicious and unscrupulous Kymeran mob boss. The finale to that is a hoot with the mob bosses crew going head to head with shapeshifters, demons and a motorcycle gang whose membership is composed of valkyries and amazons.

It’s a fun read, and while the excursions into paranormal romance territory were at times excruciating they were only mildly painful and not explicit, and they were also thankfully rare. The concepts in Left Hand Magic were great, there’s a lot to like about it. Nancy Collins is a little heavy on the exposition early on and at times I felt like I was reading a vistors guide to Golgotham rather than a novel. This does settle down about halfway through and the story starts to take shape, rather than meander on as it was before that point. This also lets readers get to know the three main characters of Tate, Hexe and the runaway shapeshifter or werecat Lukas. Of the three I tended to like Lukas the most, he was the most believable. Hexe was a little too good to be true and tate vacillated between being clueless and the tough tattooed butt kicker that populates many urban fantasy and paranormal romance novels.

It’s pretty disposable fiction, but it was enjoyable and easy to read. I’ve got the sequel (Left Hand Magic) ready to go and I can see this series becoming a bit of a guilty pleasure for me, because I do love the way it deals with mythical races. The dwarves subway and their kingdom directly under the streets of New York was a delight.

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