by Brett Davis
Baen, pb, 281 pages, $5.99
The setting is present day Washington DC, the site of the upcoming culmination of years of delicate negotiations. Finally, the treaty which will set aside a reservation in the Southwest for America’s faery creatures is about to be signed. After years of growing persecution and discrimination, the treaty is hailed by both sides as a major step toward improving racial harmony. But someone-for reasons unknown-is trying to disrupt the faeries’ ratifying convention, with lethal force.
The hero of Brett Davis’s novel is Joe Cork, a mixed race investigator for the Senate Supernatural Affairs Committee, which has been at the forefront of the treaty negotiations. Cork is torn in his own beliefs, but has worked hard to help pull off the convention for his boss and mentor, Senator Horton Howard. In the course of investigating the disruptive activities, Cork begins to unravel not one, but a series of plots, and a variety of hidden enemies.
Using elves and other faery creatures as a metaphor for racism isn’t new, but it is uncommon enough to be a fresh device. Unfortunately, much of the novel degenerates into a simple, and perhaps too linear, adventure story, in which the outcome is never in much doubt. Darker things are hinted at, but the book isn’t dark enough, or dense enough, to do justice to a strong premise. Davis is on stronger ground when he lets the atmosphere of the book develop, juxtaposing surreal DC grittiness with the equally surreal world of faerie. More depth and development would have made for a strong book. As it stands, the novel is thought-provoking, but too light.
First appeared in Horror magazine, April 1994.
Copyright © 1994 by Leigh Grossman