Thursday, June 4, 2009

Review - "The Enchantment Emporium" by Tanya Huff

From Tanya Huff, the author of the acclaimed Blood and Smoke novels, and The Keeper's Chronicles series, comes a brand-new modern urban fantasy novel set largely in Calgary, and featuring Alysha Catherine Gale, the kind of gutsy yet caring heroine that is Tanya Huff's trademark.

The Gales can change the world with the 'Charms they cast, and they like to keep all this power in the family. Some people might describe them as witches, and that might not be inaccu¬rate if you are willing to be a bit flexible about the definition of a witch. No one would deny that folk magic works for them, and there are those occasional broom flights.... Most of their neighbors have long since learned that it's not a good idea to get the Gales riled up, especially not at certain times of the year.

The Gale Aunties are in charge of the family, or they think they are. And Alysha Catherine Gale, like all her Cousins, often finds herself beset by too many Aunties trying to run her life, both personally and magically. So when the letter from her Gran arrives telling her that she's inherited a junk shop in Calgary, Alysha is ready and willing to honor her grandmother's last request to keep the shop open and serve the "community." Of course, all of the Aunties want her to find out what really happened to Gran and then come back home to southern Ontario where she belongs, and where they pretty much have her future mapped out for her.

It isn't till she gets to Calgary that she realizes it is the fey community she'll be serving in her shop, The Enchantment Emporium—and that one person's "junk" may be another person's magical treasure.

Finding out what happened to Gran will not be easy, not even with the aid of an overgrown leprechaun assistant whom she seems to have inherited along with the store. She also has no way of anticipating just how much otherworldly trouble is brewing in Calgary. As if magical threats from unknown sources aren't-bad enough, there's also a pesky and persistent—and, yes, rather attractive—reporter with a high-caliber secret of his own snooping around.

As the town gears up for a sorcerous battle royale, Alysha begins to realize that even calling in family reinforcements may not be enough to save the day....
The Enchantment Emporium is the newest urban fantasy novel from Canadian science fiction and fantasy writer Tanya Huff. The women of the Gale clan dominate this novel. From the Aunties to the cousins, to Alysha our main character, they are all women of power and yet so very domestic too, in a very witchy way. Baking pies is a big family ritual. The Gale women tend to have large families with five to six children, usually only one boy. The Gale men are also unique, their magic owing to Celtic antecedents. The older, more powerful women are referred to as the Aunties and they are a delight. They are portrayed with ambiguity, which lends mystery and fascination in regard to their true natures. For example in this exchange between Alysha and the leprechaun Joe –
"I have a lot of cousins; if you freak at a live frog in your lunch bag, next time it's pepper in your pompoms."
"What in your what?"
"Pepper in your pompoms." Allie pointed at the mirror now showing her reflection in full cheerleader rig. "Red and gold," she corrected, and the colors changed. "Most of the Gale girls are cheerleaders in high school. Even Gran."
"Scary thought," Joe muttered following her back into the store.
"We're less scary when we're young."
"Differently scary."
"Fair enough. Auntie Jane says Gran was deadly with a field hockey stick."
"Actually deadly?"
"It's always safer not to make assumptions."
Alysha moves to Calgary to take over her grandmother’s store and investigate her death. The story makes it clear no one believes 100% that she is actually dead. The secretive Aunties in particular are distrustful as the Grandmother was both powerful and a loner and they are all over Alysha to discover the truth. What Alysha uncovers leads her to the discovery of a hidden sorcerer, dragons and dragon lords, a romantic entanglement and a threat to the city of Calgary that could be catastrophic. The plotting is intricate and layered with plenty of surprises. Combining both dark and light moments, The Enchantment Emporium delivers liberal doses of sly and often fannish humour -
"I'm thinking," Allie growled, "that I'd like to know what's happening, and it's a little hard to find out once the ground's been salted."
"Metaphorically?" Michael wondered.
"Sometimes. Look. . ." She pushed her plate aside and leaned forward, elbows on the table. ". . . you know what the aunties are like. Gran's gone, someone broke the security on a gate to let the dragons through, and they're going to blame the sorcerer for both those things as well as the hike in Calgary's transit fares, middle-aged women wearing jeans that barely cover their asses, and SciFi canceling The Dresden Files."
"Loved that show," Michael muttered around a mouthful of French toast.
Alysha is not afraid to ask for help and over the course of the story she accumulates the core of a new family, drawing cousins and friends to her side in Calgary. What begins as a temporary relocation soon enough becomes home to Alysha, and her metamorphosis from just another Gale cousin among many, to a woman of leadership and destiny is wonderful to behold. The Enchantment Emporium has a winning collection of secondary characters that deliver a rewarding urban fantasy experience.

Enchanting is the best way to describe and sum up The Enchantment Emporium. I loved every minute that I spent with the remarkable Gale clan and didn’t want it to end. Charming and funny, this is a novel about family, love and magic that you won’t want to miss. Simply irresistible and a definite addition to my best of the year list. Ostensibly a standalone novel, I really hope Tanya Huff chooses to revisit the world of the Gales at some future date.


Penguin Group (USA)/DAW
Published: June 2, 2009
ISBN #: 9780756405557
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 361



Blood Books Series:

  1. Blood Price (1991)
  2. Blood Trail (1992)
  3. Blood Lines (1992)
  4. Blood Pact (1993)
  5. Blood Debt (1997)
  6. Blood Bank (short story collection)

Smoke and Shadows Series:

  1. Smoke and Shadows (2004)
  2. Smoke and Mirrors (2005)
  3. Smoke and Ashes (2006)


Keeper's Chronicles Series:

  1. Summon the Keeper (1998)
  2. The Second Summoning (2001)
  3. Long Hot Summoning (2003)

Quarters Series:

  1. Sing the Four Quarters (1994)
  2. Fifth Quarter (1995)
  3. No Quarter (1996)
  4. The Quartered Sea (1999)

Wizard Crystal Series:

  1. Child of the Grove (1988)
  2. The Last Wizard (1989)


Valor Confederation Series:

  1. Valor's Choice (2000)
  2. The Better Part of Valor (2002)
  3. The Heart of Valor (2007)
  4. Valor's Trial (2008)


  1. I agree with your review completely! I really enjoyed this book, and hope Ms. Huff visits the Gales again soon!

  2. Paula they are such a wonderfully imagined clan. I really do hope so!

  3. I just finished this one and adored it. In fact, I was up way too late the other night because I was so close to the end, I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen! I agree with you both - another book centered around that family would be lots of fun.

  4. Darla even a few short stories would be nice to have.

  5. I agree completely The Enchantment Emporium is a great story and I would love to read more about adventures of the Gale family. Great fun! There are so many strong characters developed in this story it could go on for a lot of books. Wouldn't that be great.

  6. Tanya has mentioned on her blog that a sequel is in the works. Huzzah!

  7. I adored this series. I'm looking for another one that I'll enjoy this much. Loved the relationships, the humour, the magic, the intrigue...


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