“The Enchantment Emporium” by Tanya Huff

I’m going to start this out by saying I actually LIKE Tanya Huff. I started her Blood Ties series and really enjoyed it. So, this review may not be in the best light. But I DO like her!

Also, a little secret of mine. When I do reviews 9 times out of 10 I haven’t actually finished the book. I usually have about 1/4, or less, of the book left to read, but I have enough knowledge about the book to write a review …I don’t reveal the endings anyway. So, that was my first problem with the book. I would have reviewed it last week but by the ending of the book I was STILL confused about a lot of things. I kept hoping more would be revealed …no such luck.

The book opens with about 50 pages of “Aunties”, a grandfather with horns, some kind of ritual …all of which have nothing to do with the actual story. I could literally have skipped the first 50 – 60 pages and not lost any of the story. But, the way it was written, I felt like I had missed a whole series of books. It was enough that I actually looked it up, SEVERAL times, to make sure this was truly book ONE of a series. I even DOUBLE CHECKED before writing this review, and looked into her other books in case the characters were introduced in another series. Nope, this is in fact book one.

50 pages of too many names aside (she literally throws like 20 characters at you), the actual story is about Allie Gale, witch from a long line of witches. She receives a letter from her Grandmother, your standard “if you’re reading this I’m dead” letter, but in it she leaves Allie her house and Antique store. The Gale family is from outside of Toronto (locals!), but her Gran was out in Calgary. Most Gale women never traveled far from their family home, so their Gran was an oddity …something they referred to as “wild” (no, I don’t know what that means.). To figure out what happens (and because she had been laid off from the ROM – Royal Ontario Museum) she packs up and heads to the store. No one believed her Gran was truly dead, so Allie was sent to find out what really happened to her.

At the store, she meets one of the patrons, a homeless and meek Leprechaun named “Joe”. She hires him to help with the store, and in the middle of trying to inventory her Grandmothers store (kind of an antique store, a flea market, and a magical item emporium) a reporter enters, wanting to know about the store and the items within.

The story grows to include sorcerers, dragons, and magical assassins.

Before I get into what bothered me about the story, I will say it was a good read. Well written, doesn’t fall into too many stereotypes, and a fun fast paced read. Her characters are all endearing and it’s actually fun to read about their interactions.

Well, here we go, on to what bothered the hell out of me. From what I have fathered, the Gale’s are a large family led by what everyone calls the “Aunties”, and right off the bat Huff throws a dozen or so Aunties at you, as well as cousins, siblings, and parents. She set up that they were a magical family but because I had no knowledge of this family or story, it went way over my head. It really made me feel like I had missed a book – or three. I gave the story the benefit of the doubt, hoping that it would explain all these terms they kept throwing at me. First circle, Aunties, second circle, why the men have horns, men “choosing” …and so on.

Still, the story itself was fun and I rather liked Allie and her cousin Charlie. I think the Gale men have to “choose” a mate, and the options are usually other cousins. Something to do with the women being attracted to power. And for some reason they had to keep Allie away from her brother David when power was flying (it was starting to sound like a ‘keep them separated so we don’t have weird brother-sister sex’ thing, but since nothing was explained, I have no idea). Allie falling for someone meant she moved into second circle, but people who haven’t chosen are third circle and the Aunties were first circle. No, I don’t know what any of that means.

When Graham, the reporter, was introduced I thought GREAT! here is the perfect vessel for the audience to learn about what the hell all those terms mean. Because clearly Graham wouldn’t know, and with him falling in love with Allie he would want to learn. Nope. Every question he asked was met with “Family stuff” as the response. No! This is the perfect way to teach the audience. Some things were revealed through Graham, but it only lead to more questions. Like why the men have horns! There was a throw-away line near almost the end of the book about the Witches ancestors potentially breeding with the horned god, so I guess that explains the horn thing?

I enjoyed the book, I really did, and I will probably look into the rest of the series. But I wish she explained more about the family. I had SO many questions, and I’m really good at reading between the lines, but this book didn’t even give me that. Hopefully the later books will explain more about the family, instead of treating us like we are already inside the authors head.

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