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Smoke and Shadows    by Tanya Huff order for
Smoke and Shadows
by Tanya Huff
Order:  USA  Can
Daw, 2005 (2004)
Hardcover, Paperback
* *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

Tony Foster is enjoying his new life and new job in Vancouver. The former street kid who once earned a precarious existence in socially unacceptable ways is now a production assistant (read gofer) for a TV series about a vampire detective. He conceals his amusement at the more absurd aspects of the show, chides himself for his unrealistic crush on the handsome co-star, and nurses ambitions of moving up in the industry.

One day, however, what is understandable and ordinary changes. When an actress is found dead, Tony notices the unnatural behaviour of shadows. This leads him to the basement lair of the show's technical effects wizard. Arra Pelindrake deserves the term wizard more than anyone can guess. She erases Tony's memory of their chat, but he remains uneasy enough to consult one truly qualified to deal with an uncanny mystery. Henry Fitzroy is a vampire several centuries old. He is also Tony's friend, occasional lover, and protector if needed. Despite Tony's desire to be independent and stand on his own feet, he is not foolish enough to scorn help. They persuade Arra to tell the truth: she fled her own dimension when the Shadowlord overran her world and slaughtered her fellows. Now servants he sent seeking her have found Arra and Earth.

Smoke and Shadows is entertaining, with a menacing villain, determined heroes, and a world at stake. Huff also has fun with the silliness that abounds in modern society, whether in television, officious authority, or fantasy stereotypes. She uses Tony's irreverent point of view to scoot melodrama past the reader. Underneath the fun, however, is a young man determined to take charge of his own life. That determination extends to a commitment to stand and fight a supernatural evil. Tony and Henry were secondary characters in Huff's Blood novels. Tony works well as the protagonist this time, and also appears in the sequel Smoke and Mirrors. Tanya Huff can be counted on to deliver a lively tale, and has succeeded in adding another series to her string of successes.

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