Queen of the Dark Things by C.Robert Cargill
I received this book through the Harper Voyager super reader program.
So this book is way darker than Dreams and Shadows in many ways. The new characters are darker but so is Colby. The situations he finds himself in are also much darker and more dire.
It starts with a story from a distant land in a time long past that really seems to have nothing to do with our journey but we are wrong. Then we pick up Colby's story several months after Dreams and Shadows ended. He is mourning all he lost and not coping all that well. Everything reminds him of the friends he lost and he is somewhat self destructive. That self destruction is what leads him to his latest "adventure". During this "adventure", he/we meet many new, mostly frightening, characters. They include his old friend, Kaycee, and his new friend, Austin. There are several times that Colby questions who the Queen is and we question right along with him. I actually was not surprised when it was revealed, but I has thought it was someone else from the first book. We are taken back to some of Colby's time between part one and two of Dreams and Shadows. The Clever Man who cared for Colby during Yashar's absence is both frustrating and helpful to Colby and us. Once again Colby's arrogance and ignorance lead him into trouble and he has to eliminate many creatures. We find out how the new characters relate to the story in the beginning along the way. In the end he sets many creatures free and both he and Kaycee find their true destinies.
I liked this book better than the first one once we get past the whining and self-pitying Colby. Kaycee is a welcome addition to the story line. She is the other half of Colby to me. She possesses characteristics that he is lacking and he has come she is lacking. She is more adventurous and less fearful, but she acknowledges that she has limits. Colby feels he is all powerful, but he uses his heart more than she does. Gossomer is a great friend but I feel sad for him because his dog traits make him too eager to please. A golden retriever as a familiar is a terrible idea because they are obedient to a fault. I assume that is why witches use cats, they are obedient to no one. Once again I didn't care for Yashar, but I hated Mandu. I guess being a Clever Man means playing both sides but screwing with kids heads is just wrong.
Austin is pretty much what I would expect the spirit of the city to be. I imagined a female Willie Nelson and that is basically what Cargill gave us. She is country with some hippie and yuppie thrown in. I am sure if you stroll down 6th street any saturday evening you will find at least 10 people that fit her description (yes I said people, "keep Austin weird" is not just a slogan it is a way of life).
This book takes place in Austin and central Texas again but also includes Australia and other more exotic foreign locations. I assume that Cargill did a lot of research on each place to create the settings. I could picture each one easily. I want to comment Cargill on his knowledge of multi-cultural folklore. I am sure some things were made up but I have heard or read about many the creatures, symbols, and rituals he discusses. I am a fan of folklore and legends so I was fairly impressed. The passages by Dr. Thaddeus Ray, PhD add that air of authenticity once again and show how much research Cargill must have done.
There isn't much I disliked about the book. I feel Colby is too whiny and pitiful in the beginning and very self doubting. Yashar is very doubting and just a grouch for a lot of the book. I would have liked more information about Colby's time in Australia and about the kutji, since I have never heard that word before.
I hope that if Cargill feels the need to make this a trilogy that the 3rd book is about Kaycee.
Available May 13, 2014. Pre-Order at Amazon.