Alysha Gale is a 'Gale girl'. Her family is headed by thirteen 'aunties'... witches aged from around fifty to over eighty. Her grandmother, Catherine Gale, is one of these so called 'aunties'. As a family they produce mainly girls, powerful girls... and the occasional boy who also tend to have powers, but can go 'rogue' at some stage. Catherine Gale owns a shop in Calgary, but she's gone missing, presumed dead, and lets it be known that Alysha, 'Allie', is to take over the shop. Seeing that Allie has just lost her job she sees it as an opportunity to spread her wings - the aunties are rather over-protective - and put a little distance between her and the family.
When Allie arrives in Calgary she finds the junk shop deserted, full of extremely odd objects and protected, 'charmed', to within an inch of its life by her witch grandmother. Why? What's going on? It isn't long before before Allie hires a leprechaun who was known to her grandmother but not liked. She is also approached by a reporter, Graham, who wants to do an article on the shop but who seems more than a little too interested in the doings of Catherine Gale. Graham is clearly not all that he seems, or rather 'more' than he seems. Allie is very attracted to him so it's no hardship to see more of him and try to find out if he knows what happened to her grandmother. It's clear to one and all that 'things are happening in Calgary' and that Allie is sorely needed to sort it out and, maybe, even save the world.
Well, I have to say, I really liked this one. It did take me a little while to get into. The first fifty pages are full of new characters and things are alluded to and it's quite hard to get a concrete handle on what's going on. After that, the plot takes off at a rollicking speed and it's a pageturner.
This is actually my first book by Tanya Huff. I know she's popular and I've had her other supernatural books recced to me often enough, I've just not got to them. My husband has, and he really likes them. Her style is pacey, easy going, with quite a bit of funny, snappy dialogue. Running through the whole book is a lot of sexual ambivilence, what Jack Harkness might call 'omnnisexuality'. In fact, it's clear Huff is a Torchwood fan as both Jack and Torchwood get a mention... something which delighted me. I liked that ambivilent aspect of the book a lot... this is not a children's book but neither is it explicit in an adult manner, simply open to different ideas.
I also liked Allie - she reminded me a bit of Mercy Thompson from Patricia Briggs's series. She's a modern, independent woman who looks after herself and takes no nonsense from anyone. Other favourite characters - cousin Charlie (a woman) who can get magically from place to place by flying through 'the wood', Joe the leprechaun, and Graham although I would have to say that, in general, the male characters do not have the same depth as the women in this book.
Overall, a good first read for this Halloween challenge. FantasticFiction lists this one as a stand-alone. I hope it's not! I'd love to read more of Allie's adventures in Calgary and I would say the book is very open to this... lots more to discover about all the characters - especially the aunties I'd say. And I would like to know how Allie's relationship with Graham continues and matures. Recommend this to anyone who enjoys urban fantasy with a touch of horror.