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Left Hand Magic: A Novel of Golgotham by Nancy A. Collins
Review by Drew Bittner
Roc Mass Market Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451464309
Date: 06 December 2011 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

After weathering tough times, it seems all is well for artist Tate and her boyfriend Hexe, prince of the Kymera (magic-wielding humanoids) of Golgotham--New York's strangest neighborhood. But looks are deceiving; a wave of race hatred is surging in the streets...and threatens to wash away Tate and Hexe altogether.

In Left Hand Magic, the second Golgotham novel by Nancy A. Collins, Tate and Hexe have reached a state of (relative) domestic bliss. Living in Golgotham is not easy for a human like Tate, especially since residents like Hexe's virulent Uncle Esau want to drive all humans from the neighborhood, but she appears to have adapted. She's made friends and enjoys the tolerance (if not the welcome) of her neighbors.

The signs of chaos are not easy to miss, however. Tate and Hexe are in their favorite bar when a brawl erupts between clueless human kids and Golgotham locals, triggering a showdown between the law enforcement of both sides of the Gate; the events of that night spin into a riotous trial and angry denunciations on both sides. Race relations sour drastically.

Meanwhile, Hexe has his hands full undoing curses--one of the most cruel of which was the work of his uncle--and Tate pays back a favor by building an unusual metal figure in a warehouse.

Then disaster strikes as a viral video shows the "Sons of Adam" beating a Kymeran to death. These three hooded figures promise a war on Golgotham, which sparks a political groundswell against human encroachment. Hexe and Tate investigate this new phenomenon at great risk, only to find that matters are far worse than they suspected.

Unless they can solve the mystery behind the "Sons of Adam" and the new political machine building in Golgotham, there will be a war unlike any fought on American soil--with Tate and Hexe in the middle.

Nancy Collins builds skillfully upon the themes she established in Right Hand Magic. With Golgotham now chic thanks to Tate's magazine writer friend, more and more college kids and looky-loos are infiltrating the neighborhood, beyond the streets where they traditionally visited. Worse, some normal humans (aka numps) actually want to live there now. This is intolerable to human-haters like Uncle Esau, and leads to an appalling breach on his part; the events that set him on his path become understandable, as Hexe delves into family history, but evil is evil no matter how it was started.

Tate continues to blossom as a race-crossing heroine, standing up to her patrician parents (and making a horrifying realization about them) in order to stand on her own, while Hexe also has to stand up to part of his family. While his mother struggles to accept his relationship with Tate, she is still old school enough to realize what a political problem it is for the Kymeran prince to be with a human.

The issues of cultural assimilation continue to play a huge role, as Golgothamites riot to preserve their way of life. If taxis come to Golgotham, what of the centaur-drawn carriages? If computers and the Internet come, what of message-carrying spells or couriers? Collins does a superlative job at establishing the stakes for both sides, and painting what seems like a no-win situation.

Fans of the "urban" in urban fantasy will love this new novel; readers who are looking for something beyond snarky heroes and magical murders will find much to enjoy as well. Collins is a founder of urban fantasy and her sure, skillful words are always welcome to this reader.


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