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Customer Review

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A frustrating read, 12 Nov. 2009
This review is from: Trick of the Light (Trixa) (Mass Market Paperback)
This is the spinoff novel by Rob Thurman, from the same world (more or less) as Cal and Niko. We meet Trixa as she learns of a powerful artefact known as the 'Light of Life' -- something both sides of the moral spectrum: angel and demon, would give anything to possess. But first things first, Trixa actually has to find it. So, as Heaven and Hell ready for an apocalyptic throwdown, Trixa must decide where her loyalty ultimately lies. On the surface this is a solid enough book: intrigue lurks around every corner, almost nothing is what it seems with characters colourful enough not to look out of place in a Wizard of Oz remake. All set against the backdrop of a cataclysmic battle of the war in Heaven. However, dig a little deeper and 'Trick of the Light' whilst enjoyable is riddled with problems.

I had very mixed feelings about this book. I read it months ago as an ebook on my ereader, so I've had a long time to digest the story and have started reading the Cal and Niko series since then; at the time this was the first book I'd read by Rob Thurman. Trixa is the first person narrator in 'Trick of the Light' -- as a character she comes across far too full of herself and doesn't acknowledge herself as having those pesky flaws the rest of us do. Trixa's difficult to relate to anyway because of her free and flighty nature and the ending made this relatability factor even more of an issue. The other characters in general were also difficult to relate to and not necessarily very interesting either. The only character I wanted to see more of was Eligos ('Eli'); a hilarious and charming demon, an unapologetically evil one at that -- no lame brooding for him! His reaction to the ending forever endeared him to me. Leo (I can see a predictable soul mates thing going on there with Trixa *yawn*) and the dynamic duo Zeke and Griffin were amusing enough but I didn't care about them... it was difficult to care about anyone in the book really. The plot itself was paper thin and I had to re-read certain paragraphs because the story moved so oddly at times I was at a loss as to what the characters were supposed to be doing.

Another issue I had with the storytelling was the attempts at humour which veered dangerously between clunky, cliched, trying too hard, and sort of funny. The humour is both a strength and a weakness: I love books that give a meta nod and a wink or dark humour that pervades a gritty novel -- but here there was just far *too* much of it. Trixa is constantly making light of everything, if she can't take a situation seriously how am I supposed to? The attempts at humour were quite hackneyed a lot of the time even when they were funny... it just didn't have the subtlty called for in certain parts of the story. If Thurman tones it down I will enjoy any future outings a lot more! Trixa is certainly no Cal in this department -- the difference is Cal is self-deprecating and retains the underlying innocence that comes with youth, whereas Trixa just came across an annoying know it all. Far too much telling and not enough showing.

The main draw of the novel is the supposed 'huge twist' at the end of the story. It's in all the reviews and on the cover of the book, but it fell a little flat to me not that I wasn't shocked (I was). It's difficult to talk about without spoiling it so I'll leave it there. I should note that the ending wasn't out of nowhere -- it was foreshadowed and hinted at all the way through the novel, but it is somewhat out there. Not the twist I was expecting, I must say. In light of the ending I'm going to read the next book just to see where things go and to see how the author handles these characters. Also because I'm kind of fond of Eli and the worldbuilding. 'Trick of the Light' is not a bad book, even if I could pick out its flaws and I've certainly read worse. The novel kept me engaged to the end and the characters all had unique personalities with the potential for interesting future adventures. There's nothing about it that could not be easily fixed in a sequal.

Overall, a book that delivered on the colourful surface, one underpinned by a fitting darkness yet fails to deliver the high quality wit and sympathetic characters of its parent series. If this is the first book by Rob Thurman that you've come across, I strongly suggest starting with Nightlife (Roc Fantasy), the first in the Cal and Niko series. It's hugely better than this book.
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Location: England

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