Right Hand Magic by Nancy Collins
Summary: Like most Manhattanites, aspiring artist Tate can't resist a good rental deal-even if it's in the city's strangest neighborhood, Golgotham, where for centuries werewolves, centaurs, and countless other creatures have roamed the streets.
Her new landlord is a sorcerer name Hexe, who is determined to build his reputation without using dark, left-hand magic. As Tate is drawn into Hexe's fascinating world, they both find that the right hand does not always know what the left hand is doing-and avoiding darkness is no easy trick...
The Good: The world of Golgotham is great. It's interesting, inventive and has a culture that's entirely believable. It seems very natural to ride in a hansom cab pulled by a centaur or walk into an Irish pub with real leprechauns.
Needs Work: The problem with most paranormal fiction is, in my opinion, the tendency to rely too heavily on the flashier elements of action and magic rather than character and plot development-- and "Right Hand Magic" falls squarely into that category. The city of Golgotham is basically a character in an of itself; and the best developed one at that. But everyone else kind of falls flat. Tate is hard to get a handle on because we're told she's the kind of girl who'll punch a guy (in his most sensitive parts) if he crosses her, but when the actual confrontations appear she'll flee the scene as often as she'll fight and verbal confrontations leave her mortified. Toward the end she grows a spine, but it's hard to know what inherently goes with the character.
Hexe-- the love interest-- is so perfect he's blandness personified. Not once do these characters bicker or disagree and Tate is welcomed into his world so seamlessly that there's never a sense of tension. Hexe isn't given any moral ambiguousness despite the fact that Golgotham is a world that doesn't seem to have any objections to "left hand" magic-- or spells that curse rather than cure. We're also told that "right hand" magic is supposed to be much more difficult than "left hand" magic, but Hexe doesn't seem to have any undue difficulties when faced with any problem. Basically, everything fits too neatly into place.
Bottom Line: Like most paranormal fiction there is a definite likability to "Right Hand Magic" and fans of the genre will appreciate the setting and the light romance. But there are too many flaws to take this above a middling effort in my opinion. The characters are uneven and though there is some effort to broach the subject of racism, the dialog runs toward hackneyed monologues and never develops a natural flow. I liked the setting and the inventiveness of the world-building but I doubt I'll be picking up any sequels.