fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThe Wild Ways by Tanya Huff fantasy book reviewsThe Wild Ways by Tanya Huff

The Wild Ways by Tanya Huff is the second book in THE GALE WOMEN series. While I enjoyed the first book, The Enchantment Emporium, even though it had serious flaws, The Wild Ways was not good. I got to about halfway through and didn’t care about the characters. In fact, on a semi-regular basis, I couldn’t keep the characters apart.

I also had serious difficulties with the “too much power/too little consequences” system of magic in this book. Basically, the Gale family can shift reality to meet their will, including things like making airline tickets magically appear when they need them for exactly what they can afford — a magical power I would surely like to develop — and yet it is used for the good of Canada. Or, at least, what the Gale family thinks is the good of Canada. If history has taught us one thing, it is that most people can’t be trusted with this kind of power.

A different problem I had with The Wild Ways was the setting. Setting a book in a real city makes it imperative for the author to get it right. However, when that setting has a distinctive enough culture and dialect — as Cape Breton, Canada does — the author must strike a balance between accurately depicting the setting without overwhelming the reader with so much minutiae that she gets lost in trying to figure out who the local authorities are, and what the slang means. (Luckily I have a friend from the area who could translate for me, but most readers are probably not so blessed.)

There were elements about The Wild Ways that were interesting — a teenage Dragon Prince coming to terms with his power in modern Canada, selkies as environmental activists — but they were overwhelmed with too many aunties (I never could keep them straight) and not enough character building (substitute sex for any and all other forms of emotional bonding.) I did enjoy the first book in this series, but the problems with it carry over in this book and are added upon.

Published in 2011. Publisher: Alysha Gale’s cousin Charlotte is a Wild Power, who allies herself with a family of Selkies in a fight against offshore oil drilling. The oil company has hired another of the Gale family’s Wild Powers, the fearsome Auntie Catherine, to steal the Selkies’ sealskins. To defeat her, Charlotte will have to learn what born to be Wild really means in the Gale family…


  • Ruth Arnell

    RUTH ARNELL (on FanLit's staff January 2009 — August 2013) earned a Ph.D. in political science and is a college professor in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

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