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Diana Tregarde Investigates (Children of the Night, Burning Water, & Jinx High) Hardcover – December 1, 2006
"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
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Long before Buffy showed the world how tough girls could be, Mercedes Lackey created Diana Tregarde. Diana is a Guardian charged with saving innocents and destroying evil wherever she finds it. Because if she doesn't, evil will find her-and kill her first. In Children of the Night, Diana is running her friend's occult shop in New York City when trouble does finds her. Mr. Trouble, as she calls him, is a vampire whose psychic power makes her radar go off the charts. So when she discovers that he's the new benefactor of ex-boyfriend Dave Kendall's band, she's not surprised to see how bad Kendall looks. It will take all of Diana's power-and the aid of a sexy vampire protector with a score of his own to settle-if she's to save Kendall now.... In Burning Water, Diana gets a call from Detective Mark Valdez, an old college friend turned cop. When Valdez realizes that the serial killer stalking Dallas is not human, he knows he needs help. Unfortunately, Tezcatilpoca, an angry Aztec god, is on the rampage and Diana fears she's met her match. But as luck would have it, Texcatilpoca isn't the only god in the world. In Jinx High, Diana is summoned to Oklahoma by an old friend who fears that his teenage son is in supernatural danger from a fellow classmate. Faye Harper, the "it" girl with a mean streak a mile wide, is actually a sorceress whose power is disturbing. So disturbing, in fact, that an ancient being who slumbers underground is being awakened by it...and all hell is about to break loose-literally. Jacket art by Chris McGrath. (Approx. 800 pp.) 1989-1991.
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My interest piqued, I hunted it down and was a little surprised to see what could only be termed an online temper tantrum. (Not saying I blamed her, exactly, but it was still a bit of a surprise.) From what I gather, at one point after this series was introduced, a sociopath or two decided to spread the word that the novels were based on reality and there really were hunters and guardians, and they came up with all sorts of explanations and recruited followers. Like a cult. And then they threatened Lackey's loved ones.
I still wasn't quite sure about these, since I like fantasy-fantasy better than urban fantasy as a rule, and Lackey herself stated in her rant that these books sold poorly. But like I said, my interest was piqued and I eventually bought this omnibus edition, which contains all three Tregarde novels in one volume.
I'm very glad I did. Like everything Lackey does, they have the perfect balance between action and exposition, they're artfully written, and they're very entertaining. Despite being urban fantasy, the magic system (which are sometimes a bit boring and limited since there's usually a need to explain why, apologies for mixing series, we muggles don't witness magic all the time) is well done and interesting. And despite having the standard badass heroine - Diana is expert in karate and one of the most powerful witches around - she's got plenty of flaws...and she's more grounded and less conceited than usual, too. Come to think of it, all of the characters were pretty likeable.
All three books have their own settings with plenty of time between them, but characters in the earlier books have cameos in the later ones; it's always nice to meet up with a character you've grown to like. It was amusing to see some of Lackey's signature phrasing in a book that has nothing to do with Valdemar. Also amusing was in book three, where Lackey gives writing advice via Diana, who tackles a high school composition class.
So while I regret to say that there are no guardians or hunters in real life and this book is clearly a work of unadulterated fiction, all three books are ripping good fun and this three-story volume is a terrific way to get into them.
(And if you're in the mood to watch a famous fantasy author explode all over the interwebs, do Google "Lackey The Last Straw." If nothing else, you'll want to see what all the fuss was about.)
Children of the Night is about Tregarde. She's a Guardian who protects those who need it. A witch, in mundane terms. A young Gypsy is killed outside her place, and she joins forces with a vampire to find and defeat the one who did it. Plus a couple of gay guys who live in her building help too. It's a great book and I was really looking forward to meeting those characters again. Two different monsters join up to hunt. One sucks life force, the other eats the soul. Tregarde and her vampire team up to hunt the two monsters, but they've added even more help. This is the best book!
Burning Water is about Tregarde and an old college friend, Detective Mark Valdez. They are hunting a serial killer that isn't human. He's more a god, and he's possessed one of Valdez's friends. It's a good story. I'd have loved it if I hadn't been hoping the vampire and her other friends from Children of the Night would be in it. But I kept regretting they weren't there.
Jinx High--we get to meet another old friend. His son is in danger from a supernatural force. Tregarde says "Jesus Cluny Frog" quite a bit. That's annoying, but it's only in this book. Thank goodness. There's a bad sorceress trying to take over the boy and kill the girl he likes. It's a fast paced read, and pretty good (except for the Cluny Frog business). Lots of fireworks, magic, and supernatural thingies. But it doesn't have the vampire or the other friends from "Children." Diana Tregarde Investigates (Children of the Night, Burning Water, & Jinx High)
Children of the Night, Burning Water, and Jinx High could all be read as stand alone books. Each book introduces new characters, takes place in a different setting, and features unique adversaries. Past characters are mentioned in passing, but the stories do not overlap.
I highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys supernatural mystery, the 80s, and Mercedes Lackey.
However, it is obvious when the third book ends, another story was to follow. There are some e-stories available; perhaps they continue where the last leaves off. As they are not the bargain the book was, not available thru prime, I don't know if we will ever read them.