Thisby Thestoop and the Black Mountain

It’s fair to say that I read a good number of books children’s books. Having kids of my own, I like to pilfer their shelves from time to time. In our house, we like to stock “the classics” as a sort of quality guarantee. Since children’s books became a genre there have been writers who have tried to cash in on the children’s market as a way to make a quick buck with little effort. Reading “the classics” means that you get the best books from every era without having to wade through the formulaic twaddle, most of which has mercifully been forgotten over the years.
It’s a different story with modern children’s books. Picking up a new children’s book means taking a chance on wasting your time, and the modern children’s book publishing machine loves tried and true formulas. After the success of Harry Potter we got books about schools for magical/mythological/specially talented kids who are sorted into groups based on their personalities. After The Hunger Games took off, we’ve have had m…

Last Call

I think I finally realized who Tim Powers reminds me of: Charles Williams. The way in which he weaves the mystical, spiritual world with the physical, natural world is exactly like Williams's enigmatic novels. This realization came to me while reading Last Call because, in many ways, it reminded me of The Greater Trumps by Williams, another book that focuses on Tarot Cards and the archetypes they invoke.

Like the other books I've read by Tim Powers, the heroes all have some gritty, brutal physical punishment to go through before they reach the end of the story...that is if they reach the end of the story. No one is safe in a Tim Powers novel. Powers is never one to pull punches; James Bond may get into a knock-down fistfight and be just fine in the next scene, but Powers's protagonists feel every bruise, every break, and every cut.

Powers is in top form for Last Call. If the idea of a fantasy/horror book featuring Arthurian myth, Las Vegas, high stakes poker, tarot cards, the poetry of T.S. Eliot, ancient gods, vengeful ghosts, gangster Bugsy Siegel, and a cast of bizzare, broken characters that could have stepped straight out of a Flannery O'Conner story appeals to you, then you really need to read this book. If you want something less noir-ish, gut-wrenching, or bizarre, I'll understand. You'll just be missing out on one wild ride.

Content Note:  Just a friendly warning. For those who are sensitive to it, there's a good deal of rough language in the book.