Path of Smoke

Bailey Cunningham. Ace, $7.99 mass market (304p) ISBN 978-0-425-26107-1
An urban park by day becomes a fantasy kingdom by night, but the aimless grad students who revel in their second lives as fighters and bards are troubled to find that their magical world is blending into reality. Cunningham fails to provide enough clues for readers who missed Pile of Bones to make sense of the story until it’s far too late, which dulls the impact of the danger headed for the cast of characters. This sense of confusion is made worse by the overuse of multiple points of view, which undermines the humor, danger, relationships, and intrigue. It doesn’t help that in both reality and the game-like fantasy world, the main characters aren’t interesting; for example, nominal protagonist Carl (aka the musician Babieca) spends the entire book drinking, mooching, and waffling between competence and apathy. This blatant attempt to appeal to gamers adds little to a genre that already echoes with the rattling of 20-sided dice. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/09/2014
Release date: 07/29/2014
Genre: Fiction
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