Left Hand Magic: Satisfying sequel

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsurban fantasy book reviews Nancy A. Collins Right Hand MagicLeft Hand Magic by Nancy A. Collins

In Left Hand Magic, Nancy A. Collins delivers a satisfying follow-up to last year’s Right Hand Magic. Tate Eresby, a trust-fund baby turned avant-garde sculptor, is still living in the rich setting of Golgotham with her Kymeran lover, Hexe. But new troubles are brewing in Golgotham. A magazine spread has made Golgotham a hip hot spot for human tourists, and racial tensions are growing between these tourists and Golgotham’s magical natives.

The racism that Collins depicts is, sadly, all too realistic and plausible. It threatens to tear apart the relationship between Tate and Hexe, as both are seen as race traitors. But it’s far worse than that too: bullying, then rioting, then murder take their toll on the neighborhood. Some of the victims are characters we’ve already met and liked, making their fates hit harder.

A mystery lies behind all this. Are the crimes random, or is the racial hatred being manipulated by another party for personal gain? And how does all this tie in with the strange favor Tate was obliged to fulfill for a friend?

Tate is more of a major player this time around. Her special skills play a large role in the novel’s events, even more so than last time (though the back cover blurb reveals too much about that). She makes great strides with regard to her intimidating family. And though she’s not a combat character at heart, she gets to kick some butt this time.

There’s still a little clunkiness in the dialogue, especially when Golgotham’s history is recounted (though the topic itself is fascinating) or when the villain’s henchman conveniently rants about the whole dastardly plot while Tate is eavesdropping.

Overall, though, Left Hand Magic is a fun read. I read it in one day and greatly enjoyed it. And with the greater amount of agency given to Tate here, it’s superior to the first installment. Readers who like their urban fantasy worlds intricately built and fleshed out in rich detail will enjoy the GOLGOTHAM series.


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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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