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on 3 June 2009
I was half-convinced I wasn't going to like this book, but I'm very glad to be proved wrong. Like many other readers, I'd have liked a sequel to one of her other series, and wasn't convinced I'd like her new characters as much. I should have been more trusting. Tanya Huff knows what she's doing, and this is a wickedly twisted novel about a (huge) family of Canadian witches. When I say "twisted," I'm not really referring to the plot, which is relatively straightforward, but to the characters and situations which arise from it. I would say it's her funniest novel yet. I hope she chooses to write a sequel or two.
For those who haven't read Tanya Huff before: If you like Joss Whedon, you'll probably like this.
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on 1 May 2015
Basic plot (no spoilers): Alysha Gale is a 'Gale girl', a female member of the Gale family. Female Gales are basically witches, though this isn't specified - they have a range of powers which are derived from the land, and they pass through different stages as they age - In the First Circle are the scary 'aunties', older women with serious power. The Second Circle is powerful child-bearing women who are rooted to their geographical area and focused on bringing up the new generation of Gales. Third circle is those who are younger and therefore more free to roam and do their own thing. The Gale family is huge but there are far more women than men. The men are kind-of demi-gods, half men and half stag (don't ask, just read the book). They are spoiled but also manipulated by the women who are where the real Gale power lies. A lot of the power seems to derive from sexual activity and the aunties seem to engage in selective breeding to ensure the magic stays in the family and is controlled, so there is a degree of inbreeding in the huge clan which has caused some concern to some readers who have reviewed the book on this site. However, rest assured, those of you of a delicate disposition, there are no graphic sex scenes and nothing that would scare the horses, as they say - a few cheerful dirty jokes here and there and an unconventional approach to sexual relationships, but essentially nothing explicit or upsetting. Anyway, Alysha has a degree in Art History and a job at a museum. She is also in love with her gay best friend. However, when her grandmother (a 'Wild One', sometimes thrown up by the Gale gene pool) leaves her shop in Calgary to Alysha, Allie moves to Calgary and ends up settling there, after she sorts out a few minor hiccups involving dragons, leprechauns and sorcerors.
The novel is funny, occasionally poignant, well-plotted, with some great characters. It has genuine tension in places and is imaginative and unusual. Nice to read a fantasy book set in Canada. Makes a change. Highly recommended as an entertaining way to pass a few hours.
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I usually enjoy Tanya Huff's urban fantasy novels. I think that her "Blood" series is one of the best of the vampire genre published recently and I also enjoy her science fiction novels. I was, therefore, very disappointed by this novel.

The idea is great. A dynasty of magical women ruled by a collection of (slightly demented) aunties with men gathering and channelling more ancient powers. When Alyssha's grandmother goes missing she takes over her store and her life and tries to find out what is happening. As she does so she gathers a group of other magic users, and others, to her until they battle against evil forces coming through from another world.

This is, on the surface, a lighthearted novel. There are magical creatures and a whole hidden world hidden beneath the surface of the life which most people live. If the story had kept to the lighthearted stuff it would have been great but the author attempts too much and also seeks to explore an older magic. She doesn't explain this bit too well and thus you don't really get a true description of exactly what the men are doing or what their role is although you do see them involved in a few random sex acts which are part of the channelling of power. Without a description of exactly what is happening and why these snippets seem out of place and not to match the style of the rest.

This is a frustrating book to read. I enjoyed the lighthearted bits very much and I might even have enjoyed the deeper magical stuff if it had been properly explained but I didn't find the connection between the two to work and therefore I felt that the book wasn't as good as it could have been. This was also disappointing because it was a good idea which wasn't properly realised.

Other readers might appreciate better what the author is trying to do but I thought that this was a patchy read.
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on 1 May 2015
Reasonably entertaining idea, but English readers may be irritated by the American expressions/grammar. Characters are not sketched in in depth, so it is difficult to care what happens to them. Probably not going to bother with the next book in the series.
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on 19 January 2016
Having been a fan of the author since reading the Blood Books I snapped this up when I saw it and I'm over the moon that I did.

Great plot, superb pacing, fun characters that are well drawn and fleshed out, snappy dialogue and plenty of subtle pop culture references for the geeky and nerdy amongst us to spot. I loved it from beginning to end and cannot wait to read the next in the series.

Highly, highly recommended.
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on 27 June 2015
I was looking for a paranormal/fantasy book that didn't have a juvenile kickass badgirl protagonist and I found it. The Gale family are a group of witches (who have some relationship to deer and seem to shift, if I got it right) who are capable of saving the world from other-world invaders. This book certainly satisfied my need for a more "grown up" fantasy story, but I believe there's a huge back-story to this which isn't revealed and would've helped me to understand more about the origin of the Gales and what their powers are exactly. I may be missing something because otherwise I enjoyed the witty dialogue and the characters.
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on 27 September 2010
I read the Blood Ties sequence a while ago, and picked this up at random. Thank goodness - finally a story that doesn't lay it all out at the beginning, forcing the reader to (horror!) think on the way through it. It is amusing, it definitely is twisted, and, (if you're paying attention) it works! Thanks Ms Huff - please write some more!
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on 13 March 2016
Being ill is one of the worse experiences ever, so imagine my dismay that my fevered frazzled mind was unable to comprehend the first 8% of the story! So many different characters, links between them and trying to understand what kind of book I was reading. I persevered and I think as I got better I was able to identify and enjoy reading the story. Quite enjoyed it in the end.
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on 29 February 2016
A weird but strangely entertaining story, I really enjoyed it. Still not 100% sure about what was going on. The author drops in titbits of history throughout the book about the Gale family, but there's still lots to find out, presumably more details will be revealed in future books. Would recommend to readers who like fantasy with an unusual twist.
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on 30 May 2015
More than a nod to Charles De Lint's style in this Canadian urban fantasy. There's an intriguing mix of mythical magic (leprechauns, dragons, the Fey) and the unexplained, power driven out of the Gale family. Gale women are a tour de force, especially once chosen by their mate. Gale boys are used to getting what they want, threesomes included! Allie's life has taken a turn for the worse when the family receive news that her wild grandmother has died, leaving Allie her curious business in Calgary and a situation that's about to implode. As she grows into herself, a secret sorcerer and Dragon Lords threaten Calgary's safety and Graham makes her heart beat faster.
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