Title: Community Service (Broken Mirrors 3)
Author: Vaughn R Demont
Cover Artist: Angela Waters
Amazon: Buy Link Community Service (Broken Mirrors)
Genre: M/M Urban Fantasy
Rating: 4.75 out of 5 rating stars
A Guest Review by Raine
Summary Review: This Spencer and James double act – balancing on the frenetic edge of disaster – works the trick.
Blurb: Never forget what you are.
Broken Mirrors, Book 3
The King is dead, long live the King. And, uh, could you float him a couple bucks?
Life as the only human sorcerer isn’t all it’s cracked up to be for James Black, the Lightning Rod. Between gremlins in the closet, paladins crashing through skylights and working spells in a storage locker, hunting a body-hopping spirit is a welcome distraction. If only he didn’t have to partner with a Coyote.
After being punted to the curb by his roommate (with benefits), things are looking dire for trickster Spencer Crain, until an old friend offers him a shot at a big score scamming the best of marks: a vampire. Thing is, he’ll have to work with his worst enemy to pull it off.
With lives in the balance, James is learning the hard way what being a sorcerer really means—and that he picked a hell of a time to quit smoking. Spencer is faced with the choice between his future and his friends. Yeah, like he’s never seen that movie before…
This is a work of urban fantasy containing arguments for and against Dungeons & Dragons, a closeted My Little Pony fan, awkward flirting, switching POVs, heist-movie logic, and a Dwarf who can’t hold his liquor.
Back in the day when I reviewed Coyote’s Creed I recklessly assumed it was a one off novel. I have a bad relationship history with disappointing series – cough Charlaine Harris choke – so while I was obviously excited on finding out there was second book set in this amazing world I was also a little apprehensive when Lightning Rod appeared. I found the new main character, struggling sorcerer James a little less appealing than sensational coyote trickster Spencer. However this, oh so very convincing, writer still sold me most of that book. So now we are ready to go with book 3. The problem here was with another of my reckless assumptions; that three books equal resolution, conclusion and if the author knows what is good for them a HEA, or at least a HFN. Well, those thoughts turned out badly. I have now got my slow brain round the interesting fact that this is a series rather more in the ongoing mayhem style of the Dresden Files. So having finally dumped my assumptions I can review the book free and clear of expectations, except the one concerning a good read. I easily got that.
I also discovered some of the author’s influences, not withstanding endless Dungeons and Dragons references and The Hitchhiker’s Guide which had special play this time round, but the beginning of the book homages Terry Pratchett while Joss Whedon’s stuff bounced about too. I am sure I missed loads of sly references to heist movies and songs by artists I am unfamiliar with. Demont is that kind of intensely layered writer and I really enjoy his referential style.
The alternative POV’s worked very well for me. Not only because Spencer rocked this book again, but I also found James more appealing as we saw him through Spencer’s warm eyes. Spencer brought with him a huge dollop of heart and crazy uncommon sense that acted as a conduit of emotion for the whole book. His version of Coyote game plan is very revealing,
As Coyotes, our purpose in life is to get people out of their ruts, take a long look at their priorities and try a road less travelled. I like directing people to a couple choice places where the odds of buying a winning scratcher is crazy high. A bit of extra money can change your outlook, take off some stress and take your life in a new direction. That’s my method and I’ve got no complaints.
Thornton likes getting people fired.
My emotions were far more engaged with this book than the last, so don’t get me started on how much I dislike his brother Thornton. Another high point for the Spencer cheer leading section was his personally risky but emotionally brave rant to his Coyote god grandfather about the stupidity of the ‘family first’ set in stone rule.
The whole issue of family and childhood is brought heavily to bear on James throughout the action as he also struggles dealing with the loss of his mentor and lover. There is a clever symmetry in the use of childhood fears and memories to fuel life which acted very effectively to give depth to James’ personality. I thought he developed really well in this story. Sorry to return to the Spencer praise fest, but he articulated exactly what I felt about James’ previous relationship. While I previously found a whole book concentrating on James a little too much, acting in this narrative partnership he was far more convincing. His tentative romance with Ozzie is a lot of fun, except for where it impacts on my hopes for my favourite character, dammit. In terms of romance and / or sex this book is distinctly on the light, as in there is not much happening, side. The scenes between Spencer and Rourke had a bitter sweetness, while the break up sex particularly reminded me of Whedon’s Xander and Anya when they realised it was really over. I found Spencer’s oddly pragmatic moment of emotional revelation at the end of the book was just about sustainable given some of the back history, but it took a second read through to convert me. I am also rather inclined to go with the school of literary criticism that says what Spencer wants he should have.
The real concentration of attention here is on the community of friends that are better than family. The frantic action of magic power, lost, found and desired adds to the tension as tricks and scams are planned and played. It has all the self referencing trademark confusion of side plots and fate orchestrated chaos of the previous books, but this time it felt like it was multiplied by two. I now understand why it is going to take a series to raise these guys and finally sort out their lives.