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Book Reviews: Jinx High + Far Edge Of Darkness + The River Of Shadows

Jinx High by Mercedes Lackey

This was the 3rd and final ‘Diana Tregarde Investigation’ and was originally published in 1991. Diana visits Tulsa’s Jenks High on a working holiday. She has been asked to protect an old friend’s son from a supernatural threat. Something is after Deke Kestrel, something old and hungry.

Meanwhile Monica is the new girl at Jenks High and is chasing after Deke in a blatant attempt to steal him away from his girlfriend, the popular mean girl Fay Harper. Which is a big mistake, Fay is in fact an immortal sorceress skilled in blood and sex magick.

There is about to be one hell of a semester at Jenks as teenage hormones, Diana’s meddling and old fashioned magick go head to head. This was very good however Diana is smug, full of moral superiority and obsessed with leotards. Monica is a snotty troublemaker and Deke is an idiot. Fay however is a fascinating villain and the twist ending is great.

Chronologically it takes place after ‘Burning Water’ and it is a shame that Lackey never wrote any more books in this series, btw the dated technology and aging self righteous hippies are unintentionally hilarious.

Best Lines:
“Weren’t you the one who refused to own more than two pairs of jeans, because anything more was conspicuous consumption?”

“A state-of-the-art laptop with more software than anyone has a right to own. And a built in modem.”

Far Edge Of Darkness by Linda Evans

From 1996 comes this tale of time travel. Sibyl Johnson is a Ph.D student who is thrown off her degree programme and ends up as a slave in Ancient Rome. Charlie Flynn was an undercover cop but has spent four years enslaved in Ancient Rome. Logan McKee is a veteran who literally fell through a crack in the world and ended up at a secret government installation.

Logan soon learns that a drug cartel family has taken over a secret government time travel project and are journeying back in time to steal antiques and dump people they find inconvenient. Dan Collins was the commanding officer of Project Gallivant until the drug cartel took it over. Now he’s a cowering idiot. How can a posse of drug lords take over a time travel lab without anyone noticing?

Charlie and Sibyl fight to survive in the past. They are not helped by the fact that they are idiots who go looking for trouble, always amazed that their 20th Century attitudes and behaviour causes them massive problems in Rome of 79 AD. To add to their woes, events conspire to put them directly in the path of the soon to erupt Mt Vesuvius.

This is fairly good but has a number of flaws and it ends on a massive cliffhanger. There was to be a sequel ‘Unholy Trinity’ which so far has not been published. What are the drug cartel up to? Will the time stream unravel? Why do so many characters have a firm grasp of the idiot ball? How come nobody noticed that Project Gallivant had been taken over by a drug cartel? Must there be sexual violence to create drama? And the dated geopolitics in the ‘present day’ scenes are hilarious. This is an entertaining but somewhat flawed story.

Best Lines:
“Rome still remembered Spartacus’ rebellion as vividly as Charlie remembered the movie - and its ending.”

“They’d only begin to grasp what they had hold of. God help the world when they started to figure it out.”

“It was something Sibyl supposed, to have one’s doctoral thesis borne out so graphically...the awe she felt as the reality of Herculaneum A.D. 79 stretched out before her.”

“We’re stranded in the Pleistocene Ice Age...Last week the woolly mammoth herds started migrating south for the winter, through the ice free corridor. I figure the nearest people live somewhere in the middle of Russia, if Russia had any Cro-Magnons.”

The River of Shadows by Robert V.S. Redick

This is the 3rd book in ‘The Chathrand Voyage’ series and it is an overlong, boring mess. The Chatrand continues its endless voyage, Pazel learns stuff, Thasha Isiq has a revelation and the sorcerer Arunis continues his millennia long tantrum.

But nothing really happens. There is talking, endless padding and seemingly dead characters keep popping up being not so dead after all. This is a padded mess of stooge and it made me lose interest in the 4th and final book in the series.
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