It’s a Mystery

After spending almost all of my November reading Safehold, I needed something shorter, easier, and not brand new.  I greatly enjoy Weber’s epic, but every one of the books is on the longer side and, coupled with my being relatively busy, it took me longer than it should have to read almost all of them.  It’s no surprise that the next book I picked would be one I could finish in a day.

Enter Children of the Night, the first of the Diana Tregarde Mysteries.  This series consists of three books, one novella, and multiple short stories featuring our protagonist.  She lives in New York City and works as a romance writer.  (Why is there a trend of supernatural heroes working as romance writers in urban fantasies?)  Diana’s also a practicing witch but, far more importantly, she is a Guardian.  I may have discussed Guardians when I talked about the Eric Banyon books, but they’re front and center here, whereas it’s the Bardic magic Eric mostly deals with.

Guardians are the magical Big Guns.  They take some pretty serious oaths and responsibilities towards helping the people around them and the force that makes them Guardians will sometimes give them the whammy necessary to take out their opponents.  That force seems to have something of a low-level intent of its own, and doesn’t always kick in, forcing the Guardian to find another solution.  Please note that I said “opponents” and not “enemies” – Guardians may be the enemies of the Forces of Evil, but it seems to me that they generally just want every to live together in peace and tolerance.

Back to Children of the Night.  As mentioned, this is the first book, from 1990, and it takes place as Watergate is wrapping up.  I have to wonder if a teenager finding it for the first time would have questions about the pay phones used in the last quarter of the book, but that’s my mind wandering again.  After Halloween, Di notices some nasty stuff and, of course, it’s her job to deal with it.  We’ve got something that eats souls, and something else that likes to hurt and kill.  The plot is basic enough, with a bit of mystery as we have to figure out what the creatures are, how to take them out, and where they are.  There’s some jockeying in the early chapters as we’re shown various players and left to wonder how they’ll fit together, but it wraps up quite nicely in the end, if a bit sorrowfully.

Children of the Night was one of the first Mercedes Lackey books I picked up on my own, based solely on the author’s name.  The title’s not quite as corny as Bride of the Rat God, but really, few things are on that level.  I am pretty sure I found it before I found Werehunter in the used bookstore, because I distinctly recall getting excited about the short story “Satanic, Versus” being another adventure of Di’s.

I enjoy the Diana Tregarde Mysteries because they give me the mysteries I can’t otherwise read by covering it in a fantasy skin.  We’ve already established how much I love fantasy and the fact that I can endure quite a lot in the genre that is mediocre at best because of it.  Mysteries, on the other hand, are more difficult.  General mysteries tend to not have a lot of reread value for me, and it’s hard enough getting me to read them the first time.  I amanged to burn myself out on mysteries years ago.

Let me explain.  When I was in first and second grade, I dove headfirst into mysteries.  I loved them, couldn’t get enough of them.  And I touched on so very many of the classics: Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Clue, Clue Jr., Encyclopedia Brown, Two Minute Mysteries, The Boxcar Children, The Babysitter’s Club Mysteries and more.  I read so many of these books within a two year span, and I have had so little interest since then.  The only unskinned mysteries I’ve read and enjoyed since then are And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, and Stieg Larsson’s Girl Who… books.  I haven’t read more than the three, though I heard the continuation isn’t bad.

I guess you can say putting a fantasy skin on things – from mystery to horror and so much more – makes it easier for me to swallow them.  Like a sugar coating on a pill.  Which makes me sound pretty childish.  But I’m not about to argue with the results.  Especially not when there’s a world of difference between a book that’s become a chore to read and a book that is a genuine pleasure to read.

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