(Orbit, £6.99, 528 pages, paperback, published September 2004,
is a very good, strong, occult thriller, and a fun read. So, it is a
pity I can't recommend that readers new to Kelley Armstrong start here.
The fourth in Armstrong's 'Women of the Otherworld' series, this is
pretty much a sequel to her third book, Dime Store Magic. And,
in order to get the most out of Industrial Magic, the reader
should ideally have read the earlier books in the series. Not only are
there many nuances of behaviour and relationships which would otherwise
be meaningless, but also there are several references to events in the
Although anyone with an ounce of intelligence would be able to follow
the story even if they haven't read the other books, it is just much
richer and more entertaining if you know the back history.
Industrial Magic sees the heroes of Dime Store Magic
try to come to terms with what happened in that book. Their intimate
relationship is new and unusual -- Paige is a hereditary witch and Lucas
is a hereditary sorcerer, and in their world, those two supernatural
races are usually bitter enemies. Paige is now homeless; Lucas is moneyless.
And, they are also doing their best to bring up a teenage foster daughter
who seems likely to turn out to be an extremely powerful witch.
The last thing the couple needs is more emotional stress, which is
exactly what Lucas's sorcerer father gives them when he tries to intrude
into their lives. However, someone is killing teenage children of dad's
employees, and Paige and Lucas are the ideal people to track down the
murderer. Can they cope with the job if it means working alongside Lucas's
Armstrong's world contains several races of supernaturals, living amongst
the far more numerous humans but keeping their powers and existence
secret. Her previous books have focussed on werewolves and witches,
while introducing several other species, such as half-demons, vampires
and shamans. In this book there is a welcome return for some of the
werewolf characters from the earlier books. Armstrong also introduces
even more supernatural species, and explores some, such as vampires,
in greater depth.
It's almost, but not quite, too many. At one point I feared Armstrong
was getting carried away by the possibilities, as so many fantasy writers
do. However, she does just manage to keep control over her imagination.
So, the fairly wide cast of characters develops into individuals, instead
of simply being stock fantasy figures. Far from being a tribe, the vampires,
for example, all have different personalities. In a very entertaining
episode, we are introduced to the horrors which one vampire thinks need
to be kept firmly behind a locked door in a gothic-style mansion.
I like the way the characters are allowed emotional development even
though this is, essentially, a supernatural thriller. And there are
plenty of thrills, along with good pacing and a range of settings for
the various adventures.
There's only one episode which jars. Lucas is shot and in order to
save him, Paige has to enter a far more mystical and 'spiritual' state
than usual. It is all to do with the Afterlife, and like so many fantasy
and occult books, I have no problems reading about vampires or magicians,
but don't find concepts of heaven, hell or limbo convincing at all.
This concept of 'Afterlife' is actually quite important for the plot
since it introduces a crucial development, but to me, the whole episode
doesn't ring as true as when Armstrong is developing the action. Incidentally,
this episode provides the basis for the next book in the series!
Armstrong is a modern-day writer. When Paige is attacked by a possible
murderer and held hostage, she quite naturally goes to pieces. Then,
she pulls herself together, wonders why she is waiting helplessly for
her boyfriend to rescue her, and unleashes some powerful spells upon
I like this series. The books are entertaining and enjoyable, and Armstrong
tells a good tale.
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