Gate of Darkness Circle of Light is a singleton urban fantasy novel. The focus of this novel is Rebecca, a brain damaged woman with the mental ability of a child, but with the Second Sight. At the age of twelve, she was the only survivor of an automobile accident, suffering a depressed skull fracture which effectively stopped her intellectual development. However, she continued to develop sexually and thus was a desirable target for sexual predators. She has been a ward of the Toronto Metro Social Services since the accident.
In this novel, on a Saturday night, Rebecca discovers the barely alive body of the little man that lives in the tree in front of her apartment house. He has been stabbed with a small dagger. She takes him inside to her bed, but doesn't know what else to do. She leaves Tom, a local cat, to guard the little man and runs to fetch Roland Chapman, a street musician and bard trainee. When they return, the apartment has been disarrayed during a bloody battle between Tom and unknown assailants. The little man finally gives her his name just before he dies. His body vanishes and leaves behind a lot of blood and the dagger.
Rebecca leaves a phone message for Daru Sastri, her caseworker, and then they take the dagger to Mrs. Ruth, a bag lady. She tells them that the dagger is the knife of a Black Adept. Apparently the Darkness is making its move on the world of mankind and they need to enlist the aid of an Adept of the Light to even the odds, Rebecca and Roland convince Ivan, a local ghost, to pass on the request and later the White Adept appears at Rebecca's apartment. Evantarin looks like an adolescent heavy metal rocker, dressed in black and white, and of course is beautiful in a masculine way.
As Rebecca, Roland and Evan are discussing the situation, Daru arrives hastily from a family party and is brought up to date. They determine that the Black Adept has come to open a portal into the realm of Darkness on Midsummer Night; meanwhile, he is killing off the creatures of light and gray as well as indulging himself in sex and blood. Hopefully, they will be able to prevent him from opening the gate and thus forestall the devastation of the Earth in total combat between Darkness and Light.
Police Constable Patton and her partner, PC Brooks, become aware that something out of the ordinary is happening when their car hits a unicorn. Thereafter, they are involved in several mysterious deaths and keep running into Roland and Evan during their investigations. However, both are vulnerable to the manipulations of the Dark Adept and are continually diverted from the real action.
This story is reminiscent of the Bedlam's Bard series by Lackey et al, although preceding that series. In fact, two of Lackey's songs are used herein. However, it based more on the Zoroastrian mythos, in which a balance between good and evil is the desired state, allowing free will for humanity. The exact nature of both good and evil is not specified, but left as a mystery.
The story is apparently the author's third fantasy novel. It has a very unpredictable plotline and an unusual set of well defined characters, although the Dark Adept is stereotypical (evil so lacks originality). The character of Rebecca is extraordinary and the persona of the White Adept Evan is believable without being stuffy. Tom is a male cat, period; he is a totally independent soul with the heart of a warrior.
In case you didn't notice, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I have also enjoyed the author's Valor science fiction series. I have other novels by this author on my shelf which I should get to very soon.
Highly recommended for Huff fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of urban fantasy with a different twist.
-Arthur W. Jordin