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Mischief by V. J. Chambers

Saving the world is at least as good as a hit record, right? 

It’s the 1980s . . . 

Iris Tanner should have been the next big thing. Her former band is opening for the hottest glam metal band of the moment, Mischief. But due to an accident, Iris is a ghoul, roaming the streets looking for dead flesh to eat.

Then Billy—tall, dark, and possibly a stalker—lets Iris know that Mischief is really a disguised group of pixies, bent on the destruction of the human race. Iris decides fighting to save the world is at least as good as a hit record. And since Billy doesn’t seem to be doing anything except following Iris around, he brings his brooding, beautiful face along for the ride. Pursued by the pixie police, captured by witches, and nearly eaten by black pixies, they find it’s a long way to the top if they want to rock and roll.

Note: Mischief contains some harsh language.


A complete novel

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Listed: Apr 23, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

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Editor’s First Impression

By Linda Schoales, editor

Apr 22, 2010: The first chapter is solid, if a bit odd. The heroine is spotted stealing body parts from a morgue. She tries to use her powers to make her observer look away but it doesn’t work.

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Most Helpful Member Reviews

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Interesting aspects, but really hard to like the "good guys."

By Eren Reverie, author of Et Alia

Jan 11, 2015: This was a little difficult to read at times. I felt that some of the paragraphs had too much crammed int o them – that they contained details that were e traneous to their subjects, if that makes sense. That’s mostly a stylistic complaint, though, so I didn’t count it much against my score.

Onward to the story!

I’ll start by saying that although the author’s description seems to bill this as a light, adventuresome read with ridiculous scenarios like magical metal bands . . . Well the story does have humorous elements, but it also has some realism thrown in and it goes pretty dark toward the end. The romantic subplots were, I thought, rather well done: no one was inhumanly perfect, and the bumps encountered were from the sort of awkward things you’d expect in real life as much as the contrived pressures you would anticipate from an adventure story.

On to characters: I was really excited when I realized what the main character was, since I’ve had about a dozen ghoul protagonists in mind for my own stories – mostly because I wanted to read a story with a ghoul protagonist, heh. The magic she had was pretty cool, too. However, my excitement started to fade a bit as the world building developed.

There were some problems in my mind with the world that developed. Warning: this gets a little spoilery.

At first, I thought that the Pixie Police were a police force of actual pixies that regulated magic and hunted down users of dark magic. No. They are, in fact, a multinational, socially legitimate organization that pretty much kills anyone or anything related to magic. Now, I don’t have a problem with anti-magic societies in urban fantasy fiction, but this one seemed a bit unbelievable to me. Given the power that actual pixies and magic wielders had, it seemed that it would have been pretty easy for them to sabatoge this organization of purely mundane individuals and rendered it ineffective. Instead, they live in hiding and perpetual fear of it.

Well, I chalked that up to an acceptable suspension of disbelief and continued. But then I hit something that almost made me give up on the book.

SPOILER:

At chapter four you get some insight into the back story of the guy who’s being setup to be a to romantic interest. Although the writing is from his point of view and clearly sympathetic to his back storyhigh. The man is clearly a psychopath. You see, there is a drug in this story’s world – pixie dust – that gives people magically intense halucnations. It is made by literally drying out and grinding up pixies. And Billy, in his youth, wasn’t just a supplier – he was his own provider. In fact, he thought it was a great occupation because there weren’t even any startup costs: he just had to hunt down pixies.

Now, if pixies were just some sort of unintelligent magical entity – like, say, an enchanted forest’s version of a chicken – I wouldn’t have an issue with that. But they’re not. They’re intelligent, sentient, and (most interesting of all) incapable of emotions that would make them a danger to others – unless they’re threatened or have suffered a psychotic break. And I’m sorry . . . Anyone who decides that murdering sentients and defiling their corpses to sell as a drug is an awesome way to make money be a use it’s easier than work and doesn’t require any startup investment? Psychopath. Oh, and how did our main character become a ghoul? By taking a bad pixie dust pill.

At about that point, I was starting to root for the evil heavy metal pixies. I mean, they live in a world where if they are found they will be hunted down and shot by an organization that is either actively or tacitly supported by the whole of civilized humanity – unless the people who find them out want to end their centuries long life so they can dry out and grind up a corpse for a cheap high. Yeah . . . I’d want to wipe out humanity, too.

Especially since the druggies could just, I don’t know, hire a pixie to hit them with illusions that would be just as good as the ones they get when they’re high on pixie dust – and wouldn’t result in a murder, and would leave said pixie available to be hired for additional illusory experiences.

But, okay. Suspend disbelief and move on.

I ended up doing a lot more suspending of disbelief than I usually do for an urban fantasy, where I just have to accept some stuff about magic.

Anyway, once I accepted that these were more antiheroes than even most anti heroes I’m familiar with, then the story was interesting enough with a few twists on magic that were pretty entertaining.

I’d say that if you’ve finished the other titles in this genre that have caught your eye on the guide, or if you don’t pick at fictional social constructs and don’t consider the moral implications of ‘the good guys’ life decisions, then this would be worth a look. I did finish it, but it was a near thing – I mostly picked it up again because my spouse encouraged me to see if the author was setting up some kind of social commentary with these characters. (Not really, that I could tell. There was some social change at the end, but not so much because anyone thought it was ‘right’ as because people realized that without magical support, other magical beings might wipe out the human race. And I guess, in this world, that would suck.)

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