I have to admit, for someone who’s looking to break into the Dark Fantasy market, I read scant little of it. Mostly I find Dark Fantasy coupled with erotic supernatural porn, and while it has its place and its readers, it isn’t something I go out of my way to spend time getting involved with. I can only handle so many hot-blooded triumvirates of vampires, werewolves and re-animators, if you know what I mean.
I was given the opportunity to read Caitlin Kittredge’s Street Magic, sight unseen (and frankly author unknown), upon the recommendation of Cherie Priest, and I said, what the hey – I’ve got time. I popped that puppy into my Sony eReader, and promptly forgot about it. In my defense, I was swept into Graham Masterton’s A Terrible Beauty, and it so completely consumed me, I was honestly afraid to read anything soon after. I thought whatever I made Graham’s follow up act just wouldn’t compare to the taunt writing and gasp out loud imagery, and I’d hate it with the fury of a thousand suns, or something equally dramatic.
Well . . .
Street Magic was just the thing I needed. Far from disappointing, I found it to be the switch I needed flipped. The transition from horror’s Detective Superintendent Katie Maguire to urban fantasy’s Detective Inspector Pete Caldecott was like watching a sky fade from late afternoon to dusk – nearly seamless and no less beautiful.
DI Pete Caldecott is on the trail of a child ruiner. Someone is sucking the essence from the children of London leaving them blind, non-verbal, and wrecked. She has a window of five days between disappearance and discovery of the missing, and with her supervisors breathing down her neck and her ex being a bastard, she finds her usual sharp instincts divided. Enter Jack Winter, a veritable ghost of a man from her past driven to help her despite the danger resurfacing puts him in. Many years ago they shared an experience of pain and magic that ruined one and blinded the other. No longer the virulent devil-may care hellion, the last dozen years have left Jack a frail junkie and Pete makes every effort to insist the supernatural is a whim clung to by idiots.
Despite the pent-up fury towards each other (each working out misplaced abandonment issues), Pete and Jack join forces to save the latest victim, through the streets of the Black and the bars of magic and thrall, they piece together a puzzle more kin to the Lament Configuration than a police procedural, for every turn brings more danger and a revelation that neither are prepared for. Green Men, Witches, Fey and Golem, there is very little Black London can’t offer the magically inclined, and the only thing needed is the strength to mind what you see, and see that you control.
I liked this book a lot. I’ve always enjoyed female detectives that didn’t give into shoe jaunts or rough sex or good cries with chocolate and vodka when times got tough. Pete is a woman that isn’t afraid to snap and brawl when the situation calls for it, the very antithesis of the “sensitive, make it all better” womanly detective types to which we’ve become accustomed. The relationship between the by the books detective and junkie on a bender was tough and tender; Jack wants to help Pete, but needs his fix, and Pete can’t depend on a junkie for reliable information for her reports. Their road together isn’t by any means easy or light-hearted, and their years apart stand only to strengthen their bond because of the interim lessons learned.
My new favorite expletive is now, ‘Ah, tits.’
Street Magic is begins its enchantment June, 2009 from St. Martin’s Press, with its sequel, Conjure Man to be summoned in December.
If you have an advanced electronic galley you’d like me to review, drop me a line.