The Enchantment Emporium
by Tanya Huff
Cover Artist: Alan Ayers
Review by Gayle Surrette
DAW Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780756405557
Date: 02 June 2009 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
The Gales are a very clannish family and most come back to the family home regularly. It isn't often that a Gale will settle away from the family and even less often will one not come home for the regular family gatherings--the Aunties don't like it, and no Gale crosses the Aunties. Nevertheless, Gran moved away and now she's dead and she's left her store in Calgary, The Enchantment Emporium to Alysha "Allie" Catherine Gale. Allie's at loose ends so she heads off to Calgary to find out what happened to Gran. But the store isn't what it seems and Allie finds that, just maybe, she's got a purpose after all.
Huff's books are always, at heart, no matter how fantastical, about the characters and how they deal with life, love, loss, revenge, hope, and danger. The Enchantment Emporium is no exception. Allie has to come to rely on herself and to trust her own judgment. She's finally away from the Aunties watchful eyes but that means that she's on her own and it's up to her to stand on her own feet and defend those she loves and who are under her care.
When I first started the book, I felt like I was being dropped into the deep end of the pool and told to learn to swim -- now. There's a lot going on, but very little explained. Who are the Gales? (Hint: They're not related to the famous Dorothy Gale of tornado fame.) However, the family does possess a goodly amount of magical ability or one sort or another. The inter-family relationships and their attitudes to sex, relatives, and power take a while to form a pattern that makes sense. When you first meet some of the characters in Calgary, you already have some grounding in what the Gales are like, at least enough to know what seems true and what seems off-kilter.
However, even though I didn't fully understand the world, or how these people fit into it, I was pulled into the story because Allie's problems were understandable and I wanted to find out just what she was going to do about them. Characters and their interactions are not just dressing, they drive the plot and the situations. I'm hoping that there will be more books in the future with these characters because this outing was entertaining and ripe with continuing possibilities.