The Enchantment Emporium
DAW (473 pp, $7.99, June 2010)
Reviewed by Thomas M. MacKay
Canadian writer Tanya Huff has well-established credentials in the speculative fiction world, having written a number of respected novels, spanning the range from traditional epic fantasy, to contemporary fantasy, to full-on science fiction. Certain common themes tend to appear in her work, though handled gracefully and without detracting from the story. Ms. Huff’s work commonly challenges any cultural bias toward inequality – whether among races, genders, or for any other reason – and questions the validity of sexual inhibitions, while never denying the real and powerful impact that love imposes.
In the Gale family, “charming” preserves its original meaning, as the Gales still follow the old ways of the Goddess and the Wild God. Twenty-four year old Allie Gale grew up learning how to cast charms and mix potions, taking her place in the third circle among her many cousins, and trying to avoid crossing the Aunties – because Gale power grows as you age, and the oldest generation of women together possess the power to change the world. But magic still can’t give you purpose, and Allie is back home trying to figure out what to do with her heart and her life after losing her job as a research assistant at the Ontario Museum and still struggling to get over her gay ex-boyfriend. When Allie’s wild grandmother, the one Gale Auntie that lives apart from the family, doesn’t come home for the May Day ritual, Allie’s restlessness grows. The next day comes word that Allie’s Gran has died and left Allie an esoteric little store in Calgary. The Aunties don’t really believe their sister is dead, but they send Allie off anyway to figure out what her Gran is up to.