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    Review of SMOKE AND MIRRORS by Tanya Huff (see her blog)

    Daw, June 2005

    Television production assistant Tony Foster ends up having to do the dirty jobs for the second-rate TV show he works on. When they're filming an episode in a 'haunted house,' he's the one who has to make sure the mirrors show the right thing. But what the mirrors are showing is the wrong thing--that the house really is haunted. A pattern of murder/suicides has cursed the house for centuries and the ghosts seem compelled to act out their deaths again and again. When darkness falls before the crew is able to leave, those left inside learn that they're locked in, and that whatever strange force is holding them captive intends to drive at least some of them insane--crazy enough that they'll kill the others. Blood and death give the strange power within the house the energy it needs to survive.

    It sounds like a horrible plot device to Tony, but it's real. And when the others learn he's not just a gay PA but also a wizard, instead of being thankful, they blame him for their problems and demand that he get them out. But getting them out will take some doing, and Tony may be a wizard, but he's a really bad wizard who has definitely not been studying enough to take on the power of the evil entity in the basement.

    Author Tanya Huff (see more reviews of novels by Huff) dishes up a highly readable story with some intriguing concepts, and the running joke of horror events happening on the set of a horror TV show. I found that Huff's explaining away cliche by having the characters make fun of it worked well the first time or two, but didn't really grow on me, and the romantic angle didn't seem fully integrated. Still, Huff held my interest with the mysterious force in the basement, the host of ghosts throughout the house, and the various personalities of the TV crew, actors, and the producer's children who whined and demanded their way through the story.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 1/26/07

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