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In this sequel to Tinker, Our Heroine has to figure out how to deal with the very large mess she made in the previous book. Tinker has managed to permanently strand Pittsburgh on Elfhome and has also managed to turn Turtle Creek into a mushy dimensional discontinuity that’s been dubbed “the Ghostlands.” On top of that, she has to pick more sekasha for her “Hand” of bodyguards, something she isn’t particularly looking forward to doing and she’s receiving urgent messages and apologies from Riki, the tengu who had betrayed her to the oni in the previous book, and trying to learn magic and receiving “how to be an elf and married to Windwolf” lessons from various sources.
While this is going on, Windwolf must deal with the situation involving the human population of Pittsburgh, and hunt down the oni who have infiltrated the city. This is a very daunting task because Elfhome is a homogenous culture that has never really had to deal extensively with anyone from outside of it. (No, it does not count that Pittsburgh has been a frequent resident for more than a decade.) While he’s hunting for Oni he discovers that some humans have been forced to help the oni, and some of these interactions have resulted in children (which creates many more levels of complication.)
Within in this unstable situation, more problems arrive in the form of a visit from VIPs from the Fire Clan and the Stone Clan who are questioning the situation. Among them is a woman Windwolf had had a relationship with, Jewel Tear. (Who is a total spoiled brat who is less than happy that Windwolf became tired of her coyness and moved on.) Other problems include prophetic dreams that Tinker is having about the colony ships that had gone through the gate (and crashed into each other a lot) an oni dragon.
The pacing is a lot more relaxed in this book, though Tinker does not really get much of a chance to catch her breath and figure out what is going on before we’re dragged along into the next situation. We learn a lot more about elven culture and the role the sekasha play within the elven caste system. (They watch the watchers, basically.) I did like how Tinker is slowly learning how to interact with elves, especially the sekasha, and I enjoyed her interactions with the newer characters.
I did not however like the way that Spencer introduced one of them. Mostly because it was slightly confusing because she was introduced, then introduced again via a nickname used only within the context of a relationship she has with Windwolf. This was kind of annoying. (Another slight nitpick I have is that Spencer in general seems to have characters with Extraordinary and Coincidental Backgrounds, and Tinker has this in spades.) I enjoyed this book a lot, and liked the way that certain storylines from the previous book were resolved in this one. I am hoping that Spencer writes more books in this universe, as it’s an interesting one, with some terrific characters and world building.