Do you remember a great little genre show called Friday the 13th: The Series? It ran for three seasons from 1987 to 1990, and once you got past the disappointment that it had nothing to do with Jason Voorhees, it was actually a surprisingly enjoyable bit of serialized horror/drama., complete with a great cast. The basic premise of the show was that Micki and Ryan were distant cousins who inherited an shop full of cursed antiques from their Uncle Lewis. They spent the series working with Jack, an old friend of Lewis, tracking down those antiques and stopping their owners from using them for their own dark purposes.
I don't know whether Gail Z. Martin was a fan of the show, or whether she's even aware of it, but I like to think of Deadly Curiosities as a sort of spiritual sibling to that show. Here the antiques are haunted, not cursed; Cassidy and Teag rescue them, not retrieve them; cleanse them for resale, not lock them away; and are aided and abetted by a vampire, not an elderly occultist; but you get the idea.
Part mystery and part urban fantasy (with nary a hint of paranormal romance to be found), this is a book that I found lagged a little, but which was ultimately satisfying. The main characters were likable and well-rounded, and the secondary characters jumped off the page as well, which was a pleasant surprise. Like I say, the pacing was a little slow, but it picks up when it has to, with a race to the final climactic battle.
Cassidy's psychic sensitivity to haunted objects was probably my favorite aspect of the novel, with the historical scenes of death and despair rendered vividly. Paired with the current hauntings, they create an classic ghost story feel in much of the novel. It's almost a shame that Martin had to take the story to a larger scale with the entrance of an actual demon into out realm, but it's nice to see evil confronted personally on such an epic scale. It's a story that wavers from light humor to exceptional darkness, but it's never cute/quaint or vulgar/obscene.
Familiar, accessible, and enjoyable, Deadly Curiosities is the kind of book to have serious crossover appeal for urban fantasy and horror readers alike.
Paperback, 464 pages
Expected publication: June 24th 2014 by Solaris