24. Princess of Wands by John Ringo. 408 p. Published September 2007.
This book was given to me by a friend, though she had not read it.
The book is divided into three parts. The first, ‘The Almadu Sanction’, introduces us to Kelly Lockhart, a homicide detective in New Orleans. Lockhart is on the trail of a sadistic serial murderer who may not be working alone. In an effort to find the person responsible for these gruesome deaths, Lockhart visits an old psychic he’s used as an informant before. She sends him deep into the bayou, searching for the pimp who may know who is responsible and the ‘princess’ who may help him solve the case.
While there, Lockhart runs into Barbara Everette, a soccer mom who decided to take the weekend off from her husband and three kids and go on a short vacation in search of some good Cajun eats. But after a long night of driving, Barbara found herself stranded in the back-water town of Thibideau. But what draws Lockhart to our Episcopalian heroine isn’t her over-sized chest, but the LotR T-shirt she’s clad in. “Aloof Elven Princess.”
Lockhart and Everette soon find themselves neck-deep in a small town turned evil, and only Barb’s penchant for combat and faith in her god offer them any chance of getting out alive.
‘The Necromancy Option’ dominates the book’s second half. Barb is brought under the fold of The Foundation for Love and Universal Faith, who, among other things, conduct Special Circumstances investigations. While on a retreat, Barbara undergoes orientation for her new job as an Adept of the White God. There she comes in contact with Wicca, Asatru (Norse), and other faith practitioners, all of whom have joined together on the side of Good.
With some new knowledge, a boost in her faith, and a bunch of new friends, Barbara is sent on a mission with Janea, an Asatru, and Greg, an FBI agent. They are going to a small science-fiction/fantasy convention
in order to track down someone who’s been killing young girls in order to harness necromantic energy. While there, the trio meet the large range of personalities common at any convention, and the reader undergoes a rigorous orientation for the world of print sci-fi. But Barb’s attempts to slush out the murderer seem to have alerted him, and now she must rush to defeat him before any more lives are lost.
Our final story, ‘Broken Sabbath,’ is a mere 30 pages long, and brings the reader back to Barbara’s home. Her life as a house wife is fulfilling, but as her eldest daughter starts the softball season with a new coach, Barb finds that her secret job has made her a little paranoid. When the team is put through a series of ‘team building exercises’ without any parental supervision, and the girls begin to show signs of stress, Barb uses her contacts at The Foundation to vet the new coach. And what she finds sends her chasing after him in full tactical gear.
Princess of Wands is, to my knowledge, completely standalone. Which is too bad, because I enjoyed the book (a good simple read). This most recent edition to the growing subgenre of urban-female-occult-specialists (I seem to be reviewing a lot of these books) realistically uses religion and Christian faith without too much bible-thumping. There is an interesting contrast between the first two parts of the novel, the first being a tad simplistic, and the second steeped in detail. A number of conversations that take place during the convention are particularly detailed, and a number of characters are obvious adaptations of real people/authors. The only thing that detracts for this book is that the genre itself is becoming rather generic, and Ringo does little to make this particular work stand out. I take that back, the second book is a rather good depiction of your average sci-fi/fantasy convention.
If you are interested the first part of the book, ‘The Almadu Sanction’, is available for free online by the publisher.
Rating: 3 out of 5