When I found out Rob Thurman had a new series coming out, I grabbed it the minute I saw it. I love her Cal Leandros series and I was curious to see what else she would come up with. The book was published last year, but with any series, I always hold off until the second book is in hand before starting to read. Thus the reason for a delayed review. I also have to admit that, after seeing some of the reviews that were coming out, I was a bit hesitant to give Trick of the Light a chance.
Trick of the Light is set in the same universe as the Cal Leandros series, and a couple of the characters from the Leandros series, while not actually appearing, are mentioned. I had heard through the grapevine that this was the case, and that added another reason to hold off reading until I was totally caught up with the adventures of the Leandros brothers. I didn't want there to be any spoilers. There weren't, so if you are in the process of playing catch up with the Leandros books, you can sneak this in. It won't spoil anything.
The central character of Trick of the Light is Trixa Iktomi, a bar owner, a seller of information, and an occasional demon hunter. Sharing the responsibilities in the running of the bar is Leo, and joining her in her demon hunting are Zeke Hawkins and Griffin Reese, "brothers" in arms. As members of Eden House, a nationwide network of telepaths and empaths working for Heaven and supervised by Angels, Griffin and Zeke make it their mission to exterminate demons, so it's more like Trixa joins them in the demon hunts. For the boys, it's a job; for Trixa, it's personal. She has made it her life's mission to hunt down and destroy the demon who killed her brother.
It is during one of these hunts that Trixa learns of The Light, an ancient artifact that is being sough by both Heaven and Hell, as whoever possesses it will be invulnerable to attacks. While the minions of Above and Below are both looking for it, Trixa plans on being the one to find it, and once it is in her possession, she plans on using it as a bargaining chip to have her brother's murderer turned over to her. Whoever can deliver the demon can have The Light. With the race for The Light now on, both sides put it all on the line in order to be the one to whom Trixa turns over the artifact. The demons attempt to seduce her (there's no such thing as an ugly demon -- not in human form anyway), and the angels show their true colors, proving that they are just as vicious as the demons and are not above killing to get their holier-than-thou mitts on The Light. Playing both sides, will Trixa be able to achieve her goal before being found out?
While I enjoyed Trick of the Light, I was disappointed to find it was not of the same caliber as the Cal Leandros series. Trixa, the central character, for me was the weakest; Griffin and Zeke came across as the stronger characters, and they were the ones who carried the story along, which was interesting as the story is told in the first person from Trixa's point of view.
I also found the first half of the book was not as developed as the second half. There was quite a bit of repetition littered throughout the first half of the story. How many times do we have to be told that Trixa's favorite color is red, or that it was five years ago that Griffin and Zeke first showed up in her bar, running from social services because of something Zeke did. It felt like Thurman hadn't fleshed out Trixa completely in her mind before sitting down to write. The other possibility is that Thurman's weakness in her writing is female characters. Her male characters come across as stronger and more interesting, even the minor ones.
The story itself is interesting and contains a number of twists, some surprising, some not so. I had figured out some of them a quarter of the way through, and the finale kicks some major ass.
Despite what I consider to be obvious flaws, I enjoyed Trick of the Light and I will be reading the next installment, the just-released The Grimrose Path. I'm curious to see where the series is headed, and if there is going to be a Cal Leandros/Trickster crossover. I think it would be amazing to have Cal and Nik teamed up with Zeke and Griff. The mayhem that would ensue would be awesome!
Would I recommend Trick of the Light? Yes, but not if you are reading Rob Thurman for the first time. Consider picking up Nightlife, Book 1 of the Cal Leandros series, first to get a feel for what Thurman is capable of.