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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Allyson James: STORMWALKER

Author: Allyson James
Plot Type: UF
Ratings: V4, S4, H2-3
Publisher and Titles: 
     "A Little Night Magic" in Hot for the Holidays anthology (Jove, 2009, an introduction to Magellan and Jamison's story)
      Stormwalker (Berkley, 2010)
      Firewalker (Berkley, 2010)
     "Double Hexed" in Hexed anthology (Berkley, 2011)
     Shadow Walker (Berkley, 2011) 
     Nightwalker (TBA)

     A review of Shadow Walker, the newest book in the series, follows this review of the series so far:

     STORMWALKER is an urban fantasy series that is more rural than urban. Janet Begay is a twenty-something Navajo stormwalker. She can pull power (i.e., electrical energy) from storms and use it as an aid or a weapon. Unfortunately, Janet can't always control the immense amounts of power that come from the most violent storms.

     In Stormwalker, Janet returns to the fictitious Magellan, Arizona, to be near her Navajo homeland, where she buys and renovates an old hotel while she searches for a missing young woman. When Janet gets into trouble with Nash Jones, the local sheriff (who is the missing girl's fiancé), Janet's former boyfriend, Mick, shows up to rescue her. Mick is a mysterious (and tall, dark, and handsome, of course) man who helped Janet understand and control her powers when they first met, but they broke up five years earlier after he began disappearing for days at a time without telling her where he was.  

     In Stormwalker, Janet discovers that Mick is a fire-wielder—and more. The plot revolves around Janet's mother, a malevolent supernatural god-spirit who wants to use Janet in some really monstrous ways. Janet and Mick, with the assistance of a shape-shifting coyote trickster and a wisecracking magic mirror, finally send Mommie dearest back to the Beneath (a Hell-like world filled with angry gods and spirits who want out), but one gets the idea that we haven't seen the last of her.  

     In Firewalker, Mick's clan is out to get him because he has refused to kill Janet, and Janet must save him while also solving the mystery of a serial killer who leaves corpses turned inside out. (Ewwww!) In the midst of all of this action, Janet has to learn to control some new, dark powersa legacy from Mom.  

     As Shadow Walker opens, Janet is being chased along a highway by Nash Jones (she was speeding), when a sinkhole opens beneath them, swallowing them both up. While they are trapped in the sinkhole, skeletal-hand pictographs try to grab and kill Janet, but Mick manages to rescue her. As Mick is helping Janet recover ("recovery" equals sex in this series), they are interrupted by an obnoxious health and safety inspector who advises Janet that her hotel is about to be condemned. Later, as Janet tries to figure out why her electrical and plumbing systems have regressed to the condition they were in before she had them renovated, Mick pulls out a ring and asks her to marry him. Soon, however, Mick gets scary and threatening, and then he disappears. As Janet investigates, she discovers that Mick has been enslaved by a witch and that that witch wants Janet killedby Mick. Now, Janet must find a way to rescue Mick and destroy the witch without being killed, but at this point she doesn't even know the identity of the witch. Needless to say, the action is fierce and explosive as some of Mick's dragon associates get involved, along with Coyote; Grandma (aka Crow Woman); another witch; a shaman; and Janet's edgy and dangerous half-sister, Gabrielle. By the end of the story, we know the identity of the witch, the reason for Mick's enslavement, and the cause of the plumbing problems. The only plot thread that doesn't really get resolved is the one involving the skeletal pictographs.

     This series has all of the characteristics of good urban fantasyexcept for the urban part. The heroine is a smart, magically powerful, angst-filled loner, and her boyfriend is an even more powerful, über-alpha dragon. Janet has the typical UF "missing magical Mom" syndrome, but her childhood was actually quite happy because of her quietly loving father and her blunt, magically talented grandmother. The supporting characters are well developed and complex, particularly Nash (who is magically null); his volatile girlfriend, Mara; and Coyote, the trickster god who seems to always show up just in the nick of time. We also have some humorous moments with Janet's sarcastic, sex-crazed magic mirror.  Each book builds on the action in the previous books, so you need to start at the beginning.

Here's a quotation that explains Nash's relationship with magic, which is an important part of the plot in both Stormwalker and Shadow Walker:
     "Nash himself was some kind of magic voidwhich meant that his body somehow negated all magic thrown his way, even the most powerful stuff." (Shadow Walker, p. 6)

This blog entry was last updated on 7/11/2011. 

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