Monday, March 2, 2015

Tinker by Wen Spencer

Twenty years ago the Chinese opened a gateway in space, it was supposed to transport ships to another galaxy - but something went very wrong.  A section of Pittsburgh now spends most of its time in another dimension.  Every twenty eight days Pittsburgh returns to Earth during the Shutdown, a much needed time for the humans to bring in supplies from Earth and reconnect with their families.  For some people Pittsburgh on Elfhome is the only home they have ever known, the only Pittsburgh they have ever known - Tinker is one of those people.  

Fiercely independent and armed with a piercing intelligence, Tinker runs her scrapyard as a private playground and laboratory where she can create and tinker as much as she likes.  Brought up by her grandfather Tinker has had a somewhat unorthodox upbringing, and while she can speak Elvish she has an alarming lack of understanding about the human and elven worlds.  When one of the elves is attacked in the junkyard and left mortally injured, Tinker has no hesitation to jump into the fight - even though they are both badly outmatched.  Wolf Who Rules Wind is an elven lord and it is not the first time he has crossed paths with Tinker, and it is also not the first time they have ended up battling creatures together - although at least this time Tinker is an adult and not a child.  

Saving Windwolf's life has unexpected consequences because Tinker suddenly goes from being a relatively invisible human to being a freshly minted elf!  Everything is confusing and it seems as though there are traitors and secrets around every corner - human, elf, and other.  Tinker is about to face some impossible choices, choices dictated by love, loss, and conspiracies.  Being an elf means she is no longer contained by the comparatively short lifespan of a human, but as long as she still thinks like a human she is an unknown quantity to her enemies - which may just work in her favour. 

I have been rereading old favourites a lot recently and when I realised that there is now a fourth book in the Tinker series I decided to start from the beginning and see if the series was still as good as I remembered.  One of the things I picked up on very quickly was that the catchphrase on the cover (Buffy fans should find a lot to like!) was somewhat misleading - mainly because there is a wealth of science fiction elements in Tinker that are absent from the Buffyverse.  Tinker is a quick thinking, quick tempered, somewhat reckless young adult who has more intellect that is healthy in a person with her complete lack of the "common sense" things that everyone in her world knows.  In some ways she faces a comedy of errors by making decisions that lead her to grief because of her lack of understanding about the elven and human worlds she lives in.  She may understand quantum physics, but she can't understand the politics of her world.

I found a lot to like here, and anyone who enjoys a multifaceted story with plenty of depth will also find a lot to like here.  Spencer has drawn heavily on Asian mythology to create a stunning and realistic future world, with all of the characters having depth, substance, and a role to play in the story.  There are characters to adore, characters to loath, and characters that you can't help but feel a little sorry for because of their fated role in the story.  The elves and their world is just as carefully rendered, as is the human society.  I have book two in the series waiting for me to read next, and I hope I enjoy rereading Wolf Who Rules as much as I enjoyed rereading Tinker.  Be warned though, this is not a little read (over 400 pages) but the story unfolds in such a way that it really doesn't feel that long.  
A fantastical blend of science fiction, fantasy, action, and drama.

 If you like this book then try:
  • Eight million gods by Wen Spencer
  • Alien taste by Wen Spencer
  • Moon called by Patricia Briggs
  • Night shifted by Cassie Alexander
  • Cry wolf by Patricia Briggs
  • Kitty and the midnight hour by Carrie Vaughn
  • Dark descendant by Jenna Black
  • Blood price by Tanya Huff
  • Urban shaman by C.E. Murphy
  • Spiders bite by Jennifer Estep
  • Dead witch walking by Kim Harrison
  • Precinct 13 by Tate Hallaway
  • Prowlers by Christopher Golden
  • Children of the night by Mercedes Lackey
  • Cast in shadow by Michelle Sagara
  • Summon the keeper by Tanya Huff

Reviewed by Brilla

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