Fall of Light by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

Fall of Light

Some of today’s most fascinating fantasy is urban in nature: the melding of magic with the real world, often (but not always) within a city. Unfortunately, the genre has gotten blended with paranormal romance, but occasionally we get a book that returns to the roots set down by authors such as Charles de Lint.

Fall of Light is just such a novel.

Opal LaZelle is a special-effects artist who can transform people into hideous monsters, with makeup or a little glamour. Her current work involves a dark forest god played by Corvus Weather. He’s convincing in his role … perhaps too convincing.

The film script was based on local legends about just such a being, which has possessed Corvus. Opal must find a way to evict this spirit before an ancient and unstoppable power rises to life.

Writing a novel that uses special effects in such a way — as a vehicle of the magic — seems obvious. Movie effects are advanced enough these days to accomplish the seemingly impossible. But it’s different for those on a movie set, and that’s a problem; many of this story’s characters seem far too accepting of the strange things happening around them.

About three-quarters of the way through the book, we get a throwaway line about the aura around movie sets helping suspend disbelief, but by this point it’s too little, too late.

Opal is another major problem. She’s far too passive: dithering about what to do, wondering if she should ask for help, then refusing help when offered. All this throws off the book’s pacing, as much of the plot grinds to a halt due to a lack of forward momentum.

Hoffman’s book has a great premise, but it goes nowhere and sputters to an anticlimactic ending. Fall of Light is a disappointing effort from a normally skilled author.

This review originally appeared in the Davis Enterprise on August 19, 2010.

Series: n/a
ISBN: 9780441018734
Publisher: Ace
Page Count: 320
Publication Date: April 27, 2010
Acquired: Personal purchase