Take John Taylor’s mother issues (as written by Simon R. Green), the snark of Harry Dresden, the mediumism of Manfred Bernardo (thank you, Charlaine Harris), put in an RV and shake. The closest result: Paxton Locke, created by Daniel Humphries.
When a teenage boy must learn magic to restrain his mother, after killing her husband for a ritual, it takes its toll. The most obvious, physical change is Paxton’s brown hair turning pure white. In the aftermath of the murder and ensuing police investigation and media circus, he learns four spells from his mother’s grimoire, watching the arcane language shift into English for him. After seeing two different, horrific visions, he destroys the book and buries the ashes. For the next ten years, he uses his magic primarily for banishing ghosts, encouraging the psychic shadows of the dead to disperse (unlike true spirits or souls that have already moved on).
Paxton also has a surprising support system that came out of his family tragedy. Kent Sikora and Estaban de la Rosa were the cops who investigated Mr. Locke’s murder, gathering evidence against Professor Helen Locke. Both cops and their respective families looked after Paxton until he came of age; both retired from the police and retreated to alternate cities (Sikora and his wife to Phoenix, de la Rosa to San Diego and his extended family). Both families, and Father Rosado, would continue to support Paxton from afar, from Craigslist replies to research to moral and literal support. (When one is on such good terms with a spiritual advisor, he isn’t offended at the threat of a pool dunking, he’s a keeper.)
We only get a small bit of this in Fade, the first book in the trilogy. A banishing leads Paxton back to his childhood home, an evil Sabrina wannabe, her triplet familiars, and Cassie Hatcher. Cassie and Paxton had a nodding acquaintance in high school; when they reconnect, she’s a part-time Target employee while attending college one class at a time. After realizing Pax needs help, she appoints herself his partner — never call her a sidekick.
Things only seem to get worse when a coven of college-age witches break Helen out of prison, gathering artifacts and allies to her cause. Add to this tentacled nightmare creatures who eat people, a Sumerian shadow demon, an ancient Aztec god who gathers a human-sacrificing cult, and the mysterious Division M and its agents who think Paxton is the bad guy.
Switching between narrative styles and different characters’ points of view, Humphries gives the reader a lot of food for thought, not only on the nature of evil, but also how forgiveness, faith, and redemption can aid the good guys. (One character even claims to have been approached by a guy with a flaming sword… Says it all, doesn’t it?)
I call this a trilogy because, as of this year, the promised fourth book, The Sacred Radiance, hasn’t been released. I’m looking forward to continuing these adventures when it does. In the meantime, Fade, Night’s Black Agents, and Come, Seeling Night are available directly from Silver Empire Press.
Thank you for reading my ramblings, and I hope to hear from you. If you’d like to recommend a book for me to read and review, or even need me as an editor for your own work, please contact me here, or on my Facebook page for Just Write! Ink.
In the meantime, keep reading, keep writing, and never give up making your own magic. Be well, my dears, and stay safe.