Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Join in the hunt...

In her debut novel, Spiral Hunt, my high school friend Margaret Ronald takes readers deep into the "undercurrent" of Boston's magical subculture. It's a society that's drenched in ancient Irish traditions and previously ruled by the supernatural equivalent to the Irish mob. This fictional version of Boston is a rich, deeply realized world that is introduced with a compelling main character and a storyline that keeps escalating in tension until the powerful conclusion.



Evie Scelan possesses the natural ability to sniff out (exactly like it sounds) anything ... she can track people or things or magical paths of power, each of which have their own distinct scents. The novel starts with a call from an old boyfriend, who appears to be in trouble, so "the Hound" (as Evie is called) begins to investigate what's happened to him ... and is rapidly drawn even deeper into the world of magic, a world that she normally tries to skirt the edge of.

As Evie (and we) become more involved in this world, the story grows continually richer and the stakes continue to rise, until the reader (and Evie) realize that they are in a war between ancient powers, between weakened gods and powerful magicians. Evie also begins to discover the true nature of her own power, which unveil new levels of potential ... levels which, I suspect, will continue to be demonstrated in future additions to the series. I look forward to accompanying the Hound on her next hunt.

The best thing about the book is also the one aspect that might discourage some readers: Ronald doesn't spoon feed you infodumps about the setting, but instead slowly reveals the world, bit by bit, as the story progresses. A reader who is uncomfortable with being left afloat, given information that doesn't particularly make sense for a few pages or chapters, will feel lost at times. For a first-time novelist, this is daring ... she's built up no credibility for the reader to trust her, so it's even more off-putting to be put in this situation, but in every case she fulfills the author's promise to answer the questions that she has brought up.

Margaret Ronald blogs about her writing (and, since the release of the book, promotional) experiences over at The Magic District. You can also check out her more random, personal, and "sillier" blog over at Wordpress.
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