Saturday, May 21, 2011

Quicksilver by Amanda Quick

Virginia Dean is a very powerful glass reader talent, but she has no idea why she comes to at Midnight in a room completely sheathed in glass, half-naked, with the body of Lord Hollister lying dead beside her in the same bed. As she is dressing and trying to make sense of her sudden (to her) appearance in the room, the hidden door to the room opens and a man named Owen Sweetwater steps in.

Sweetwater is a hunter-talent, and he has been following Virginia, thinking that she is either working with Hollister, or is being menaced by him. Luckily for her, he believes her when she tells him she doesn't know how she got here, and he helps her escape the room, and she, in turn, helps him stop a strange device, a carriage that radiates a malign energy in the spectrum of glasslight. Owen is all set to ignore the carriage and go around it, but a voice calling out for help from the corridor beyond makes him, and Virginia, have to deal with it.

From the maze of corridors, they rescue a prostitute named Becky, who was snatched off the street, and who knows who killed Lord Hollister. It wasn't a man, but a woman, mad as a Hatter, and Virginia knows in an instant it was Lady Hollister, for she was hired by the lady to find out how her beloved daughter died. Virginia has worked as a medium, but all she really does is read any glass in the room for captured images to find out what may have happened in the room where something happened. She does try to explain to people what she really does, and that she doesn't contact dead spirits, but many believe what they wish to, regardless.

Owen, as a hunter-talent, has been hired by the Arcane Society, specifically their new investigative arm of Jones and Jones, to find out why so many glass reader talents have been going missing. He was watching Virginia because he believed she might also go missing, and because she is so powerful a talent. He also finds himself attracted to her, and this is of interest to him because if he cannot find a woman to marry or have a relationship with, he will fall prey to the family condition, where the hunt becomes all, and he spends all his time on the hunt, day and night, until he dies or is killed by one of his prey.

As for Virginia, at the age of twenty-six, she knows she is on the shelf, but devotes her life to saving prostitutes from the street at a placed called Elm House, mainly because she knows that if her father's death when she was 13 hadn't included a bequest that allowed her to finish her schooling, she, too, might have ended up on the street. She is somewhat wary of Owen, because he has outed as fakes some of her colleagues, and if she is seen as aiding him in his outings, her professional name will be mud.

She is not a member of the Arcane Society, as they have a tendency to look down on those who use their talents to make a living. This is all well and good when you have plenty of money and don't need to work to survive, but those who are not so fortunate find that the attitude rankles severely. Instead, Virginia has joined the Leybrook Institute, as it has a less jaundiced attitude to those talents forced to turn to their talent as a means to survive.

But something is up with the Leybrook Institute, and Owen believes that someone there knows more than they are telling about the deaths of the Glasslight readers and the strange clockwork contraptions that keep showing up at the houses of the dead Glasslight readers. But can Owen and Virginia find out who has been killing the Glasslight readers and why, and stop them before Owen and Virginia become their next victims? And can Owen find it in his heart to make Virginia return his affections and marry him, when she has such strong negative feelings on the subject of marriage? Now that Owen has found the woman for him, can he win her forever?

I always enjoy the Arcane Society novels, and this book was no exception. As has been the case in recent books, we see that not everyone enjoys the attitude of the Arcane Society. it's not just the Winters family or the Tallentyres who dislike the Arcane Society, but many rank and file psychics, many of whom, truth be told, are fakers that the Arcane Society takes down because of the harm they do to people with real psychic talents. If they are outed as fakes, people will be more likely to assume that all psychics are faking it, which will harm the Arcane Society. But they also have a distaste for people using their talents for money, a hidebound attitude that doesn't endear them to those not well-off already.

I liked this book for the real villain, who had some psychic powers, but who was killing off Glasslight Readers when they turned down the villain's offer of work, because the villain didn't want anyone knowing what they were up to. And the villain had assistance from another person with a weak will, someone with charisma who hated their lack of power and merely sucked up to get what they feel they didn't have.

I found this an enjoyable book with an enjoyable story and characters. The Arcane Society books, no matter the pen name they are written under, are all wonderful and enjoyable books, and this one is one of the better ones. I loved the romance between Owen and Virginia, and how these two characters came together in romance, and later into marriage. Highly recommended.

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