In Elfhome, Pittsburgh continues to be a warzone as the elves attempt to eradicate the invading oni and tensions grow between the city’s residents. With Pittsburgh now stranded on Elfhome, the elves are attempting to enforce their cultural norms on the population, much to the resentment of the half-oni and human portions of the population. Also adding to the tension is the continuing presence of the Stone Clan, which is definitely in the political dog house after the events of the previous book. In this book, Tinker dodges an intrepid news reporter, searches for elven children who have been kidnapped by oni and uncovers evidence of a Stone Clan and oni joint conspiracy. (She also has to deal with cranky paranoid bodyguards and suddenly having a mother.)
Though Tinker has a central role in this novel, Tommy Chang and Tinker’s cousin Oilcan have significant character development arcs. Tommy’s arc involves his attempts to put his legitimate and illicit money making endeavors back into order. Now that he is free of his father’s control he is less than willing to make himself or his family “beholden” to Windwolf or his Clan. He has to take drastic measures in order to keep a group of tengu from cheating on a race. (Tommy also has something of an epiphany concerning altruism versus pragmatism. Not that he suddenly becomes a Boy Scout or anything.) Meanwhile, Oilcan becomes responsible for a group of traumatized Stone Clan children and encounters elven relatives he never knew he had. (He also acquires a romantic interest in the form of Thorn Scratch, a Stone Clan sekasha he ended up working with.)
In Elfhome, we see more of the negative, insular aspects of elven culture. The previous books tended to show a more functional version of the system. (I am not saying that the culture is portrayed as all good. I am saying that the dysfunction is somewhat glossed over and diminished since the most fervent social dissident is also mentally ill and incoherent most of the time.) This book does more to show that there is a very nasty dysfunctional side to the society that manifests an extreme “us versus them” attitude.
This is a very fast paced book with many twists and turns of plot. A great many questions get answered and there are some interesting developments but I felt that the book was too short. (I finished the book in just a few hours.) I really enjoyed the book and I am hoping that there will be a sequel.