Smoke and Mirrors (The Smoke Trilogy, Book 2)
by Tanya Huff
(contemporary fantasy, some horror)
In doing a bit of a search of my prior reviews, it turns out that I have done formal book reviews on SMOKE AND SHADOWS and SMOKE AND ASHES before. I have not, however, reviewed SMOKE AND MIRRORS, the second book of the trilogy. This sounds like a good time to do that, don’t you think?
Let me start by saying that SMOKE AND MIRRORS is my least favorite of the three. Not because of the characters, or the plot, or the writing – but because of the creepiness value. This is by far the scariest of the three books. (The blurb on the front mentions something about TV terror, as I recall, and book 2 of the series is the only one that I feel completely delivers that.) I have read this book three times. The first time, I got so caught up in the story – and so scared of nightmares – that I stayed up all night to finish the book. The second time I knew what was coming, and it still got to me. The third time I decided it was a good idea to read the book during daylight hours only. (This mostly worked.)
If you like paranormal creepiness, this is a good book for you. If you get scared of things that go bump in the night, you might want to read this one during the day, or skip it altogether. (For me, I love the characters enough that skipping it is not an option.)
Basic premise: the main characters are shooting a TV episode in a real haunted house. In addition to holding ghosts, the house holds “a malevolence” which is dormant when the TV crew arrives… and then gets woken up. And when it wakes, it traps the crew inside the house and tries to kill them. It’s a great premise. It’s really well done. It would (potentially) make a really good movie.
I think part of the reason why this book is so much creepier than the other two in the series is the trapped aspect. I think another part is the fact that most of this book takes place over the course of one night, while both other books in the trilogy take place over a matter of days or weeks.
One thing to remember is that while this book is my least favorite in the series, I have still read it THREE TIMES. And it’s on my keeper shelf, so I will probably read it more than once more. My biggest regret about this series is that it didn’t go past three books. I would love more, especially now (BOOK THREE SPOILER ALERT) that Tony and Lee have decided to try out a relationship. And I want to know how Tony-as-teacher works out. Sigh. Maybe the books weren’t selling well enough. Or maybe the homosexual main character thing scared away the publishers. In my ideal world, none of that would matter and I would have more SMOKE books. Or at least short stories. And if you are reading this, and know of anything more in this series beyond the trilogy I mentioned, please PLEASE let me know!