Saturday, July 26, 2014

What We’re Reading: Urban Fantasy

In last year’s Dreams and Shadows, author C. Robert Cargill introduced readers to Colby Stephens, a precocious eight-year-old living outside Austin, Texas. When Colby meets Yashar, a djinn, in the woods near his house, he is granted a wish--anything he wants! When Colby makes his wish, Yashar hesitates. He knows that if he grants this wish, nothing good can come of it. And the granting of Colby’s wish sets in motion a series of events that will have ramifications no one could have predicted. Dreams and Shadows chronicles those events, which continue in Cargill’s new novel, Queen of the Dark Things.

As the book opens, it has been six months since the cataclysmic events at the end of Dreams and Shadows that rocked the supernatural community in and surrounding Austin. Colby is still struggling to recover. As he attempts to pick up the pieces of his life, regain a lost sense of balance and deal with his losses, he begins to realize how much these events, and his actions, have changed things, and also how much attention they have focused directly upon him. Especially from a former friend who blames Colby for her current circumstances, and whose bitterness and anger have been building for more than a decade. She is the Queen of the Dark Things, and she is coming for Colby to exact her revenge.

With this new book, Cargill expands and deepens the characters and world created for Dreams and Shadows. While the earlier novel took place entirely in and around Austin, Queen of the Dark Things has a more global scope. Major plot developments occur in Australia, South America, Russia and other exotic locations (both contemporary and ancient). As a result, the mythologies and belief systems of these locales are woven into the plot as well.

Cargill emphasizes the need to understand the choices we make and why we are choosing the path or action we take. As in the first book, issues of how we define right and wrong (which are often dependent upon our particular perspectives) are explored, as well as our expectations about and reactions to how events play out. While Queen of the Dark Things is urban fantasy, the book is ultimately about two young children who, even after years of searching as they move into young adulthood, are still looking for their place in the world and exploring the choices and roads they will make and take to reach their destinations.

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