Thursday, October 28, 2021

Book & Audio Review: Elfhome by Wen Spencer


Wen Spencer
Narrator: Tanya Eby
Series: Elfhome (Book 3); Tinker (Book 3)
Publication: Baen Books; 1st edition (July 1, 2012); Audible Studios (December 12, 2014)
Length: 219 p.; 14 hours and 42 minutes

Description: Pittsburgh, PA has been magically transported to a world of elves and magic in order to stave off a monstrous invasion of Earth. Now Tinker, once a downtrodden waif from that city, but now a full-blooded elf ruler, must root out and destroy an evil plot that involves the kidnapping and breeding of elf children.

Tinker uncovers ancient secrets and a web of betrayal as she searches for the lost elflings. Meanwhile, the orc-like oni gangster kidnappers will stop at nothing to win, so neither can she. At five foot nothing, Tinker’s greatest weapon has always been her intelligence. Politics, she discovers, is a battle of wits, and Tinker comes heavily armed.

My Thoughts: This third book in the Elfhome series is told from multiple viewpoints. While Tinker does have a substantial role, the focus for me was on her cousin Oilcan. Oilcan has been the supportive side-kick in earlier books but this time he gets center stage.

His story begins when he rescues a Stone Clan child who has just arrived on the train. She is being kidnapped when Oilcan comes on the scene. Saving her leads to a conspiracy wherein multiple Stone Clan children have been drawn to Pittsburgh and then kidnapped to be experimented on by oni. 

Because Pittsburgh is under control of the Wind Clan, no one at the train station did anything to help these children. Oilcan calls in Tinker to help rescue the children and finds them in horrible situations. The only Stone Clan in the city are very unsuitable as guardians which is why Oilcan ends up responsible for five Stone Clan children who are in various states of distress including one who has lost her name and memories and only makes the sound of a duckling and is called Baby Duck.

Oilcan needs a new home that will accommodate his expanded family and takes over a former girls' school which needs lots of repair. That brings in Riki and his clan of tengu who have been taken under Tinker's care despite the way he betrayed her to the oni. Tinker can forgive him but Oilcan isn't there yet. Oilcan contemplates sponsorship by Wind clan but hesitates when he finds out the depth of commitment needed.

Meanwhile, Tommy Chang is also dealing with the new situation in Pittsburgh. He is the head of his group of half-oni - most of whom are either children or pregnant women. Although Windwolf offers sponsorship to him, Tommy sees it as just another kind of slavery and his people have been slaves to their oni masters for far too long. It takes the head of the tengu reframing the situation for him before he realizes that he needs relationships with other groups if he's to keep his own people safe. 

As Tinker tries to discover why the oni wanted the children Oilcan is now protecting, she discovers a long-term plot with some members of Stone Clan cooperating with, or being puppets for, a new oni leader who is determined to conquer Elfhome. Tommy discovers huge encampments of oni in the wilderness outsside Pittsburgh while he is looking for a kidnapped member of Stone Clan whom he is searching for to forestall being blamed for her disappearance. 

The worldbuilding in this story was excellent. It was fascinating to see the various groups - elves, humans, half-oni, and tengu - try to learn to work together and build a new sort of society. The characters were richly drawn and brought to life by Tana Eby's masterful narration of this story. 

Favorite Quote:
There were things that nothing could make right. They stayed hidden as black holes inside you. You went on the best you could, pretending everything was fine.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

1 comment:

  1. You have reminded me that this might be a good time to do an audio re-read of the series, since the next one has been turned into the publisher.


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