Yes, I promised you more Kathe Koja, but, since I just read this novel and have had the review copy for more than two years, I’m putting this review out first.
Review: Witch Lights, Michael M. Hughes, 2014.
While I liked Blackwater Lights, I liked this novel even more.
Two years after the events of that novel, our hero Ray is hiding out in Guatemala with his wife Ellen and her son William. The very powerful, very connected cult they fled at the end of the first novel is still looking for Ray, hoping to tap into his powers to summon dark, extraterrestrial entities. Its very beautiful (even if she reminds her prey of an insect), very seductive leader Lily is in charge now.
Another almost as well-connected group, the Brotherhood, is helping Ray’s family in their fugitive life in Central America. The strain of maintaining disguise and not knowing the language well is telling on Ray and Ellen’s relationship. So, they break the rules and go out with William to a local carnival one afternoon.
And, as they find out, there was a good reason for those rules. Gunmen snatch Ellen and William, and Ray barely escapes.
But it’s not Lily who’s got them this time. It’s El Varón, a narco lord who makes Pablo Escabar look like “my high school weed dealer” according to Mantu, Ray’s friend and protector.
El Varón is a bruja, a practioneer of an old, bloody, pre-Columbian religion and has plans for Ellen.
The bodies, souls, and allegiances of all the good people suffer in this book. Mantu reveals his own back story with the Brotherhood and how he doesn’t, since a change of leadership, trust it. That’s why he disobeys orders to help Ray retrieve Ellen and William.
In this novel, Ellen joins Ray as a viewpoint character, and those scenes in El Varón’s compound have real menace and suspense. Add to that the inventive magical-technological Lily launches against Ray and what he must do to counter it, some shocking offstage revelations, and you have a story that moves fast and efficiently.
Maybe too efficiently since the presence of one character is not sufficiently justified nor his story surprising.
Still, I’m pretty curious how Hughes is going wrap his story up.