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The Enchantment Emporium

The Enchantment Emporium by Tanya Huff, Gale Women #1

First volume of an urban fantasy series from the author of The Blood Books.

The Gale family can change the world with the charms they cast, and they like to keep this in the family. Alysha Gale is tired of having all her aunts try to run her life, both personally and magically. So when the letter from her Gran arrives willing her a "junk" shop in Calgary, Alysha jumps at the chance. It isn't until she gets there that she realizes her customers are fey. And no one told her there's trouble brewing in Calgary-trouble so big that even calling in the family may not save the day...

Urban Fantasy comes in many forms and shapes and I just found another one! Having read her first book in the Confederation series: Valour's Choice, her Tanya Huff showed that she knows how to write cool characters and an even better storyline. The Enchantment Emporium is the first book in the Gale Women series and promises a fine display of all things you like in Urban Fantasy. From a magic store, that takes the magic quite literal to dragons roaming the street of Calgary. The Enchantment Emporium is something completely different genre than Valour's Choice and Tanya Huff nails both the former as well as the latter, she proves to be a versatile writer!

The Enchantment Emporium opens up with a slightly chaotic scene that introduces the whole Gale family on the spot. You are thrown in the depths of all that this family is and how they work and in the beginning I was a bit like ok... too much but once I re-read the introducing chapter, the Gale family actually grew on me. They are rather eccentric and this makes them very intriguing, no one is the same and there is a lot of dynamic going on between the family members themselves, bit of rivalry and such that makes them very interesting to read about. The Gale family know that they are "special" and powerful and aren't afraid to show this. They might be arrogant, but come on, you would be in their shoes wouldn't you? There is also a division in terms of power in the Gale family, it's the women of the family that harbor the most strength, they can cast powerful charms that can change events. The aunties of the family are feared by many, they are drawn to power and will make any evil wizard and sorcerer cringe, they have just one rule when it comes to a powerful wizard, it better be dead. Because every power corrupts in the end... except their own of course... 

In the midst of this eccentric family you find the young girl Alysha Catherine Gale, what directly falls to note is that she is of the new generation Gale women and can't find herself truly in the rules that the aunties enforce on the family. A letter of Alysha's grandmother suddenly appears on her doorstep that offers Alysha a way out of the current regime, she readily jumps to the occasion. Her grandmother ran a magic shop in Calgary and Alsyha sounds find out that everything should be taken literally! Alysha's grandmother was tightly involved in the Fey community of Calgary, with a lot of consequences... If you look at the whole concept of this part of building up the storyline I was immediately hooked, it created a sort of alluring sense around the whole story, running a magical antique story has just about infinite possibilities regarding what can happen in the future, especially when you look at the Gale family besides the store, it a lot of weird stuff going on but all working for the better, it keeps the story unpredictable and interesting. 

When Alysha comes to the Enchantment Emprorium, she meets up with a, she thought, short guy, Joe, but Alysha soon finds out that he is a leprechaun. Alysha takes on Joe as a new assistant to the store. This is just the beginning as the store offers many more oddities some of which Alysha hasn't heard of before. But on the streets of Calgary Alysha soon hears that a powerful sorcerer is in hiding and now she feels a bit torn whether she should call in the help of her aunties to get rid of this manifestation, however the appearance of a sorcerer is proving to be the least of her worries as the plot suddenly broadens when another threat rises from the UnderRealm... Dragon's and Dragonlord's soon start to roam and hunt down the sorcerer, but they clash with Alysha and the Graham, the agent of the sorcerer. In the end it all comes down to a very heated confrontation, directly in the lines of how many urban fantasy fans will like a showdown. Fire, magic mixed in a lot of action!

In Valour's Choice, Tanya Huff showed a very interesting character cast, be it the main character of the secondary characters. I was rather pleased with this and she does so again in The Enchantment Emporium. Alysha makes up for an interesting protagonist, she knows how it goes about in her family but once she is in Calgary, she is truly on her own legs, trying to survive and get grips on all the weird things now surrounding her new life. This left a lot of room for development of her character and Tanya Huff readily jumps to this occasion and from the first word she doesn't stop developing Alysha's character, she really grows into her new role, becomes self-sufficient and determined, this is the kind of development that you want to read about. Her confidence grows quite a few handfuls and she starts to take risk that make not only her character but also the storyline more unpredictable, that it could change by just looking around a different corner. Besides Alysha there are many secondary character and one of them is the leprechaun Joe that I mentioned earlier. The part that I liked about Joe were that he is proud of what he does and seeks acknowledgment that Alsyha does give him, the occasional reference of him selling a yo-yo really put a smile of my face.There is also the agent of the sorcerer Graham to which Alysha more or less grows attached to. What love can do to some one... Graham does feel the same for Alysha but he has sworn to be in power of the sorcerer and now doesn't really know how to go about his own feeling towards Alysha, this struggle between on one hand obeying his master or going about it with Alysha is shown in a great way, that adds a nice few layers to his character. Next to these character you have of course the whole Gale family, male and female characters that each feel different and just as fun to read about. All in all Tanya Huff shows that she knows how to nicely flesh out a set of interesting characters.

Like I mentioned earlier, the ending of the book is a fine display of action but you also see that Alysha has made up her mind and she will be running the store from now on, all I can say is that I am very eager to find out what else kind of odd supernatural stories Tanya Huff can come up with! There are bound to be endless possibilities.

The Enchantment Emporium is something new for me in the Urban Fantasy genre. It's immensely enjoyable to read, what got me eager to read this first book was the promise of an antique store that featured more as a forefront of magical occult and it payed of big time. Tanya Huff expertly weaves an engaging story surrounding this promise, that draws strength not only from the events that take place in Calgary but also from the eccentric Gale aunties in the back of your mind, they are a piece of work, controlling the whole family down in the details. Alysha wanted to break away and she managed but does find that living on your own in harder than she had expected. This whole created a very nice sense about the whole story that can only be described with a single word: bewitching. Be careful when you pick up this book, once it works it's charms on you, you won't be able to put it down! 


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