The Wild Ways
by Tanya Huff
Cover Artist: Alan Ayers
Review by Gayle Surrette
DAW Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780756406868
Date: 01 November 2011 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
The Wild Ways takes place after things have calmed down from the changes to the Gale family as a result of the incidents in The Enchantment Emporium. This time Charlotte "Charlie" Gale is at the center of some very dangerous magic and she needs to settle in to her powers. The problem is that Charlie is a wild power and for the Gale Aunties that means she must be watched closely in case she turns into the kind of walking, breathing disaster that was her Aunt Catherine.
Charlie's a musician. She travels with a band based in Calgary but when Mark calls to say they need her to join their Celtic band for the music festival, it's the universe forcing her hand because her current band is letting her go because the player she replaced wants to come back.
Meanwhile Jack, a teenage Dragon Lord, is getting restless and want to do more than work in the Emporium. Allie need a break from trying to keep Jack from setting the apartment or store on fire. So, Charlie offers to take him to Cape Breton with her.
Now you add in some inter-family fighting, a corporate hardliner stealing Selkie skins in order to keep them from ruining her chances of a contract to drill for oil near an ocean wildlife sanctuary, a rogue Auntie with Wild Power and an agenda all her own, and a teenage Dragon Lord with all the normal teenage angst, and Charlie need to do some problem solving of epic proportions or this isn't going to be pretty to say the least.
Huff's characters and settings are textured, multilayered, and engaging. It's difficult to read any of her books without feeling concerned about the characters and truly caring about what happens to them and the decisions they make. There's also the added thread about family obligations, interactions, support, betrayal, strife and misunderstandings. Being a Wild Power, Charlie also has to come to grips with the Spidey Code, "with great power comes great responsibility".
In The Wild Way, Huff makes you truly care about the outcome of Charlie's adventure and what it will mean for her future. About Jack and his place with the Gale's -- will he be accepted as family? Huff also makes us look at the world around us with a different perspective once the covers of the book are closed. How would we have reacted in any of these situations -- minus the magic and fantastic elements -- for they aren't so different from the issues we deal with every day. Where do we set our boundaries between what we will do and what we won't? Do we set it because we don't want to be caught and punished or because we believe in doing what's right?
If you like books with memorable characters, a great story line, with comedy to lighten the darkness, give The Wild Ways a try. You might even want to back up and read The Enchantment Emporium first.