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The Myth Hunters: Book 1 of The Veil by Christopher Golden
Review by Drew Bittner
Spectra Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 0553383264
Date: 31 January, 2006 List Price $12.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

A blizzard rips into the Bascombe's mansion, carrying with it an uncanny figure: a man made entirely of ice. He begs for Oliver's help against his attacker, but when Oliver acts to defend the ice man, he enters a world he never imagined. The ice man is Jack Frost, the legendary spirit of cold and snow, who's being hunted by a killer known as the Falconer. The Falconer is just one of a group known as Myth Hunters, a cadre who intend to kill all of what Frost calls "the Borderkind": mythical beings able to cross the Veil that lies between our world and theirs.

Fleeing with Frost to the other side of the Veil, the two meet Kitsune, a Japanese fox-woman with an agenda of her own. Together, they arrive at a castle that imprisons the murderous Sandman (not to be confused with any kindly dream-entity of that name); his cage is found shattered and his guardians are slain. Oliver does not realize that the creature's freedom will carry a terrible price for his family.

Meanwhile, Detective Ted Halliwell investigates Oliver's disappearance. He also is tapped to investigate a freakish, horrific murder and yet another disappearance, both of them tied directly to Oliver. As he searches for more information, he learns of similar murders popping up all across the United States---deaths which cannot be tied to his investigation, even though he knows in his heart that they are.

Evading the Hunters and following a handful of clues, the three travelers finally reach a council of sorts, where surviving Borderkind have gathered to plan their next move. Part of their fate may rest on a man, a professor, whose knowledge of the land beyond the Veil may be invaluable...if they can find him. But their enemies have laid a dire trap for Oliver, because he must be destroyed if they are to achieve their goal. Whether Oliver will take the bait--his sister's life--may mean much more than just the lives of the Borderkind. His enemies are playing for the highest stakes, and Oliver may not be holding a winning hand.

Christopher Golden's Myth Hunters is a dynamite read. Oliver is a conflicted hero who must resolve his personal crises, even as fate places impossible burdens on his shoulders. He is helped by Frost and Kitsune, a pair of unlikely heroes whose own lives are in constant danger, as well as a smattering of mythical beings from around the world. Together, they grow into a powerhouse team that nonetheless has some terrifying opposition: the Sandman alone is a monster that may be more than they can handle, even without the added threat of the Myth Hunters as well.

Golden gives himself a big sandbox to play in here, using the cultural melting pot of the Veil to bring in creatures from many mythologies and religions. He handles these creatures with skill and confidence, and seems to find artistic freedom in breaking free of the "elves, dwarves and hobbits" or the "Greek myth" dichotomy set down by Tolkien and Lewis. It's a refreshing change of pace in a genre that often relies on a handful of well-used mythological creations.

Although this could be described as modern fantasy, there is not much in common with genre heavyweights like Anita Blake or Harry Dresden; Oliver is not a heroic character at the outset, and his confusion and ignorance are only gradually alleviated by what he experiences. His growth as a hero is as much a journey of self-discovery as his travels beyond the Veil are a travelogue of a new fantasy world.

In any case, it's a journey that many readers may wish to share.

Recommended.

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