Book Review: Tanya Huff’s The Wild Ways

Posted September 2, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Tanya Huff’s The Wild Ways

The Wild Ways


Tanya Huff

paranormal fantasy, urban fantasy that was published by DAW Books on November 1, 2011 and has 295 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Truth of Valor, The Wild Side: Urban Fantasy with an Erotic Edge, An Ancient Peace, Shadowed Souls, A Peace Divided

Second in the Gale Women paranormal fantasy series and revolving around a family of strong witchy women. The focus is on Charlie, a Gale woman with a Wild Power.

My Take

As irksome as the lack of background is, you can’t help but laugh your way through this, I do love Tanya Huff. I fell in love when I read her The Enchantment Emporium, and I devoured everything I could get my hands on, and I gotta say that Huff has a wide range of tales to tell.

I wasn’t as irked with The Enchantment Emporium as I was with The Wild Ways. The story is interesting enough and too funny — and reminds me of Charles de Lint, but I’m frustrated with the lack of information about the Gale women, where they come from. Why are their men so rare? Why do they all turn into stags? Then there’s Paul and his about-face. It certainly points up the power of the selkie, but even knowing that, it wasn’t believable.

I gotta say too, there is so much back story that “leaks out” about how Jack got here that I kept thinking I’d missed a book in this series. Maybe it’s just been too long since I first read The Enchantment Emporium??

I adored Jack! I know it’s a gruesome thing to say, but I do enjoy hearing about his escapes from his twelve uncles and the words of wisdom this fourteen-year-old has for Charlie, lol.

“Jack had spent his first thirteen years under the care of his uncles. Tender care when referring to Dragon Lords meant no need to marinate. He knew a legitimate threat when he heard one.”

Then there’s the Gale idea of schooling Jack: “it’s a bus, you can’t eat it.” No more marshmallow roasts over burning buildings, no more flying with young on his back, no more “dealing” with people…it’s that cultural difference between all-powerful dragons and humans, ahem, LOL.

“‘You ate your father.’

‘Not with onions.'”

Whoa, Amelia has a lot to prove, especially to herself, and she doesn’t hesitate, especially if she can do it on the backs of others. She’s a nasty piece of work, and I just adore the many quirky ways Huff shows us how nasty. I suppose it’s practical that Charlie should want to meet Amelia, but I should have thought Charlie would have already had a good idea of what kind of person she was.

It took awhile for me to grasp the Wild Power concept. Most of the time Huff makes it sound unwanted, but eventually, even I picked up that it’s an essential trait to have pop up within the Gale line every generation.

There’s more fun when Charlie starts hearing a fiddler in her head playing songs that relate or answer what’s currently happening in her life. And more when Charlie is riffing off popular culture, lol. The Wild Ways will keep you on your toes, that’s for sure. There’s also Charlie’s attraction to Eineen, and Eineen just does not swing that way. Tanis explains how it works with the selkie Rules.

There’s sexual innuendo throughout, but it’s a clean sort. Nothing overt. Just enough to get your imagination racing. You’ll also enjoy how ethical Charlie is with her magical music. She’s a realist, but one who cares about people.

Charlie is also trying to get it across to Jack that not all Gale rules apply to him, ’cause he’s different. And Jack is so sweet when he’s terrified for Charlie.

Oh man, those scenes down inside the mine get scarier and scarier.

I enjoyed how Huff pulled these different strings together. It makes for a great story and it’s definitely a buy for me.

The Story

Amelia Carlson is determined to get the go-ahead to sink wells in the North Atlantic. Right next to a seal sanctuary on Hay Island. It’s the scary Catherine Gale who makes it a possibility with her proposal.

With the Gales, things are hopping in Calgary, but not as much as Charlie will be when an old friend demands her help when a band member loses a tap with a seal. It’ll mean ditching her current band to help his.

It’s okay as the Gale luck holds.

What doesn’t hold is selkie luck, for their skins are being stolen and notes left behind that the Two Seventy-five N withdraw their opposition to the oil well or never see their skins again.

Life will really get fun in Nova Scotia when Jack gets there!

The Characters

Charlotte “Charlie” Gale is a witch with a Wild Power, a Bard, who hasn’t learned about her true power yet. Her magic requires music whether it’s a chord on the guitar, singing, or whatever. Auntie Catherine is another Wild Power and has the Sight, and she’s cut herself off from the family.

The Gales in Calgary
Aunties Gwen (she’s hooked up with Joe the leprechaun), Carmen who can curdle cream with a look, and Bea came west to establish a second branch of Gales. When in Calgary, Charlie lives with Alysha “Allie” (she runs the Emporium) and Graham who publishes the Western Star. Don’t call it skeezy, although sensationalist rag is okay. Jack is a young and golden dragon prince and a sorcerer who escaped into our world from another plane of existence, the UnderRealm, looking for his father, Jonathan Samuel Gale, a.k.a., Stanley Kalynchuk. It’s lucky that Jack’s a Gale and not yet 15. Allie argued the aunties into letting him live and now she and Graham are fostering him.

Auntie Judith has a daughter named Jennifer and Richard is the latest baby; Uncle Randy has one named Wendy. Other Gale girls include Melissa, Katie, and Lyra.

Evan seems to be the first circle Gale male; Roland, Randy, and Dave are second circle; and, Cameron is a third circle male. And they all wear horns. I think they shape shift and mostly live as stags.

Kenny Shoji runs the coffee shop.

Auntie Mary is Ally’s mother and makes great peach pie. I don’t know if she’s in Calgary or Toronto.

The Gales in Toronto
Auntie Jane makes Auntie Gwen seem reasonable. Allie’s grandfather and Charlie’s Great Uncle Edward wavered during a ritual, so the aunties are declaring a Hunt.

The Dun Good band
Tony is the drummer; his wife is Coreen. Taylor is also part of the band; his girlfriend is Doreen. Kristie used to be a member of the band. Jeff.

The band formerly known as Wylde Chylde is now Grinneal
Charlie had been a part some years ago, and now Mark needs her help. Aston was part of the band until he got his fingers bit off. Tim Waters is on keyboard and accordion and partnered up with Mark. Shelly Simpson plays bass. Bomen “Bo” Deol is the fiddle player; Tanis is his selkie girlfriend who’s suffered a loss. His dad is assistant principal cello with the Symphony Nova Scotia and working on getting him winter work. Feroz is Bo’s brother and second bassoon. I have it on reliable authority that Feroz shaves that pornstache off for the season.

The selkies
Eineen Seulaich seems to be the leader. Morag and Aisling are Tanis’ sisters. Aunt Roswen returns Charlie’s phone. Neela and Seanan have also lost their skins.

The Two Seventy-five N is an environmental protection group of private citizens run by an old Cape Breton family, probably the Seulaichs. Tanis is part of it.

Carlson Oil
Amelia Carlson runs the second largest oil company in Canada. The very reliable, always-there Paul Belleveau is her focused and determined aide. Willing to do the nasty work. The Duke is a coal mine Carlson owns. Captain Bonner commands the barge. The musicians who play to stop it include Mark, Tim, Gavin, and Bo.

The UnderRealm
Jack has twelve uncles, twelve Dragon Lords, constantly trying to kill him, eat him, and they include Uncles Adam, Ryan, and Viktor.

The Wood is a way the Gales travel from place to place. Hay Island is a seal sanctuary, and Sectarie Island is a protected wilderness area.

The Cover and Title

The cover is perfect as a collage of characters and location with Jack’s dragon shadow, Charlie edging along the beach with her guitar on her back, and a seal swimming alongside. The rocky cliffs represent the terrifying encounters Charlie and friends will have.

The title is about The Wild Ways Charlie learns to manipulate.