Saturday, September 3, 2011

Book Review: A Plethory of Powers by Gerald Costlow

Fantasy author Gerald Costlow returns to his world of witches, elves, and the ancient being Keyotie the Trickster in A Plethory of Powers. This book starring Rose, the Witch of the Woods, contains two novellas: The Case of the Missing Succubus and Conference of Powers.

Both stories provide pleasant reading. As the title implies The Case of the Missing Succubus follows the mystery format as Rose is asked by the Dean of the White College to find one of his missing students, who turns out to be a succubus. Rose enlists the help of her friend Keyotie. He is a shapeshifter who can take the form of a man or coyote. People often mistake him for a dog, which irks him to no end. Keyotie is a character that Costlow can be proud of. Keyotie really makes both stories sparkle. His womanizing and general disregard of the rules of decent society somehow make him totally likable. Keyotie really is a character who can talk his way out of anything. And if that fails, he can shapeshift, bite you, and run away.

The next story, Conference of Powers offers a more complex narrative with more characters. It is really a happy romp through Costlow's fantasy world as he meanders through a series of mini adventures that manage to be funny and high stakes at the same time. I liked the ending of it too. Conference of Powers also pleased me by including the character of Rose's husband, Tom. He played a prominent and heartwarming role in Costlow's previous novel The Weaving, and I was glad to find him in this story. To tell the truth I missed his presence in The Case of the Missing Succubus. The episode in Conference of Powers in which Tom and Keyotie are forced to break into a witch's chambers naked in order to avoid her protection spells was pricelessly funny.

Costlow has a real talent for crafting fantasy stories that are both humorous and serious. Elements of serious issues from reality are incorporated in the stories and make them feel very genuine. For example, the fact that a succubus is meant to only seduce and consume sexual predators acknowledged the reality of rapists in society while making the succubus characters sympathetic instead of scary.    

A Plethory of Powers will provide you with an entertaining and clever introduction to the fantasy world and characters of Gerald Costlow. Whether or not you read this one before his main novel The Weaving does not matter. Both books deliver charming stories in a fun fantasy world, and Costlow's wit is always daring and quick on its feet.

I rate A Plethory of Powers four wags of a coyote's tail.

Sample A Plethory of Powers at Pill Hill Press.

Find the book at Amazon.

See more about Gerald Costlow.

Related post: Fantasy character profile: Keyotie the Trickster from A Plethory of Powers by Gerald Costlow