I’m contributing monthly book reviews over at Fantasy Faction, a fast-growing hub for fantasy fans that updates daily with writing tips, interviews, and reviews. My first assignment is Harry Connolly’s highly enjoyable first novel in his Twenty Palaces series, “Child of Fire.” You can read the review here. Let’s have an excerpt shall we?
“Child of Fire” is the first novel in Harry Connolly’s “Twenty Palaces” urban fantasy–well, perhaps urban horror would be a more appropriate term–series (three books long so far), featuring ex-convict Ray Lilly and the precarious situations he finds himself in due to his association with the Twenty Palaces Society. The Society is a group of mages who are less like benevolent protectors of humanity, and more like an autonomous black-ops crew. The Society eliminates magical threats, and damn any collateral damage to innocents or allies or poor ol’ Ray.
The thing that surprises me the most about “Child of Fire” is that, on paper, it should not be the type of book I enjoy.
I’m not a big fan of horror in general, and Lovecraftian horror in particular, that subgenre of horror which deals with the insignificance of humanity in the face of unknowable cosmic entities. There are a lot of well-written Lovecraftian tales out there, but I’m simply not the target audience, given my taste for stories that focus on human agency, on people and their choices. (That and I’m a scaredy-cat.) However, while “Child of Fire” borrows liberally from aspects of Lovecraftian horror, with creatures and scenes which I found to be viscerally disturbing, it also allows the actions of human beings to matter, and allows them to push back against the darkness.