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Reads like quicksilver

By 20150506, author of Paladin

Sep 4, 2018: Ghosts in Quicksilver, by Elliott Dunstan, is about ghosts in Ottawa. It’s also about Jamal, a seventeen-year-old private detective haunted by her dead sister; their first case, which happens to be a murder; and the trials of moving into a new place and fitting in with the supernatural community, which they just learned exists. There’s a lot going on in this story.

Fortunately the writer is good at juggling the different threads and keeping the story running smoothly. Ghosts in Quicksilver reads like quicksilver and that’s a fair achievement. It’s hard enough getting the information down on paper. Getting it to pass easily from the page to the reader’s mind takes skill and sensitivity. When a story flows well, it is easy to imagine and provides a fuller experience. When a story doesn’t flow well, the effect is like someone stepping on your feet at the movies. It breaks suspension of disbelief and reminds you that you’re just a spectator.

Dunstan’s work pulls you in, and not just because of the workmanlike prose. It also joins the growing "supernatural detective" subgenre that includes personal favorites like Hellblazer, The Dresden Files, and Rivers of London. As with most works of urban fantasy Jamal’s the world is recognizably our own, but with added fantasy elements. There are seven types of magic user: Some, like our hero, can see ghosts. Others can read minds or change their shape. The whole thing feels plausible and balanced.

I do have some minor gripes. For example, Dunstan likes to describe characters a little bit at a time, allowing the reader to gradually build up a picture of what they look like. This works most of the time but not when it comes to Jamal, who has something of an unconventional appearance. We learn in Chapter 2 that she’s seventeen, red-haired, and a girl, or at least presents as a girl. We gathered she was dark-skinned but we don’t get confirmation until a few chapters later. Granted, the first-person-perspective isn’t the best at describing the main character but I feel like some of these details should’ve been mentioned at the start, back when I was picking voices. My version of Jamal sounds like Humphrey Bogart and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Otherwise I recommend Ghosts in Quicksilver to anyone who likes snarky ghosts, solid worldbuilding, magic users learning to use their powers, young heroes being way over their head, supernatural communities hidden by a masquerade, and Canadian in-jokes. At least, I’m pretty sure the jokes are in there.

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Editor’s First Impression

By Fiona Gregory, editor

Oct 26, 2014: Note on the podcast version: I enthusiastically recommend it as a wonderful way to experience this story. The reader Bill Uden sounds just right for Jesse. A couple of the sound files near the end are corrupted though, I think.(The story itself I have mixed feelings about, but it’s certainly an above average piece of writing, and I did enjoy listening to it).

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Please sirs, could I have some more?

By Xirena, member

Jul 2, 2010: I found Silverglade while searching through the categorized listings and thought; eh, why not. When I got to reading it I was hooked! It is another story of the kids who are different being in a special school, but then again it is not "just another special school story". I don’t agree with the authors’ description about Harry Potter meets Heroes though, it is it’s own story. Honestly I think they just wanted some kind of frame of reference for folks who might not generally read this genre.
The characters and their POV’s are written by different authors, granted there are only say 5 different fellows writing and you can imagine how many different characters there are, so it creates some sense of individuality and still flows exceptionally well, you just have to be ready to read about a some events twice from different perspectives. So far my favorite character is Cuthbert Ulysess Barton, otherwise known as Cub. He is one of the metahumans who has shown a marked difference in physical appearance, he is covered head to toe in greyish fur, has a long face and twitchy ears, (no he isn’t a werebunny, sorry) he also has a long tail and has some strange dietary ideals. Ok so he resembles a wolf, but when you get to know him you just wanna bring him home and give him a milkbone. I would recommend this story to anyone that enjoys a rollicking tale of intrigue, growing up, learning respect, and fuzzy/feathery/fantastical folks.

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