Title: The Enchantment Emporium
Author: Tanya Huff
Series: Gale Women
Published: 2009 by DAW
Read: 2 times. Once in December 07 to 08, 2010 and the second time January 18 to 20 2014
Genre: Urban Fantasy
This is definitely a hidden gem. I have never heard anyone discuss it and I found it by accident browsing Audible. I had not read anything by Tanya Huff before but I know that she is getting recognition in the community – she won the Auroras Award for Best Novel 2013 for The Silvered and after reading this book I want to read more of her. I read The Enchantment Emporium back in 2010 and last week I picked up the second book in Audible, but after listening to the first hour I realised that I had to re-hear the first book to get anything out of the second on (I was ill as well so that didn’t help my memory).
So I remembered this being an awesome book all about family and magic and not much else about it. And it is definitely all about magic and family. I don’t think I have ever read an urban fantasy book where family played this strong a role.
The story is about Alysha who moves away from her family to run a junk store and figure out what happened to her grandmother. She quickly gets involved in big strange plot in the city, because things are happening in Calgary.
The story is told primarily from Alysha’s point of view, but we sometimes shift to other people’s points of view, like her cousin and a local reporter for a tabloid. The story moves along quickly and sucked me in both because of the strange plot and because of the interesting setting.
Alysha is part of the Gale family, that is a big family of witches run by the woman with fewer but very magically powerful men. The Aunties runs things and the woman definitely have the upper hand power-wise. They do magic by drawing charms and they cook a lot of food. They are constantly eating in this book – I had to get hold of cookies to listen to this!
The other supernaturals in this settings are different types of fay, sorcerer and dragons. Which always makes me happy.
There is a nice romance plot on the side as well, but it never overshadows the plot itself. Many urban fantasy romance plots makes you want to hit the protagonist in the face, this isn’t one of those. Alysha knows what she wants and is quite straightforward about it. The whole family is very open about sex and while Alysha is mostly into men, she is definitely a bisexual and the story never punish her for that – it don’t even complicate her relationship to the straight man she is interested in – which I find really refreshing. There is a lot of talking about sex, but no actual sex scenes.
As a reader I could see that the antagonist, a sorcerer, is probably bad to the core, but the people in the story who is only presented part of his actions sees him in way more shades of grey. And his motives are understandable, even if they are not sympathetic at all. I love that he is a 3 dimensional person and not a monster or a villain.
Though the story Alysha grows a lot as a person and she figures out who she is, what her place in the world is and how to stand up to the aunties. The book might be all about family but it is also a book very much about power dynamics and about power.
Another thing that I quite enjoyed in this book is all the pop culture references that is woven in as a part of the dialog – it is just fun. I love it when authors don’t underestimate their readers. Of course we get Star Wars references and of course we know the Dresden Files. It is one of those little things that spices things up. So yeah.
The story is definitely worth reading, it isn’t your typical Angry Trousers urban fantasy but it is definitely urban fantasy and good urban fantasy to boot.
The author: Female, white, Canada
The protagonist: Alysha Gale, bisexual, white, witch, owner of a junk shop, able-bodied.
Setting: Calgary, Canada, present day