Smoke and Shadows (book, 2005, Tanya Huff)

From SFX 143. This was my very first brush with the then-young paranormal romance sub-genre.

Book One of the Smoke Series

Ex-Vampire sidekick takes on Extra-dimensional Wizard

Tanya Huff/Orbit/408pages

There’s plenty to loathe about this book. It’s vampire fic with a street-smarts hero who behaves like a gay Tintin. It’s set on the set of a TV show where everyone is as hopeless as they think they are. It’s also Canadian, and as those prone to making sweeping generalisations all know, Canadians are dull.

Excepting of course, that Smoke and Shadows is a rollicking good read. In it Tony, the auxiliary of Henry, the 450 year-old vampire star of Huff’s Blood series, takes centre stage. He’s now an Assistant Director on some rubbish show about a vampire detective. Only on set, the shadows don’t behave as they should, and that’s because they’re leaking in from a parallel dimension conquered by, wait for it, the Shadowlord.

Yech? No. If that sounds crummy it does little service to Huff’s ability to tease her genre, without ever mocking it. The tale may contain such things as a special effects wizard who is actually a wizard, as well as that brand of sharp-tongued, lazy lust that seems peculiar to gay writers, but against all the odds, she pulls it off, perfectly capturing the nature of pondlife TV production on the way.

Don’t get me wrong, this ain’t Asimov, but it is peppy and fun, kind of like a good episode of Buffy. If you look objectively at it, you should never read this kind of tat, but life’s too crappy-short to be a snob. This is good shit.


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