It’s a new year, and time to get back on the blogging train! (It is a train, right? I am so bad with metaphors these days.) Some time back, I realized that I was definitely not reading enough fiction by women and minority writers, so I put out a call for suggestions for new reading material. My twitter friends directed me to Emmie Mears’ early 2015 novel Storm in a Teacup, the first in a series of books about Mediator Ayala Storme, slayer of demons.
Mears has been releasing Ayala Storme novels at a rapid pace: Storm in a Teacup was released in February, Any Port in a Storm in June, and Taken by Storm just came out in December. I started reading right away, before I fell even further behind!
The first of these books introduces us to an Earth very much like our own, with one important difference: demons and witches exist, and regularly prey on humans for their own dark purposes. Civilization has been forced to accept this constant threat, but has a tool on its side: the Mediators, people born with a preternatural ability to kill demons.
Ayala Storme is one such Mediator, taken from her parents at birth and trained to be a master swordfighter. Demon-hunting is a lonely business, and Ayala has settled into a solitary routine: working by day at a PR firm that barely tolerates her, stalking remote parks at night with her sword, looking for monsters to slay.
One hunt, however, takes a peculiar turn: Ayala finds and kills several Imps wearing necklaces of human hair, something she has never encountered before. The next day, her Mediator boss, Gregor, assigns her to track down a missing woman without explanation, another unprecedented occurrence. Soon, Ayala learns that these events are connected to the arrival of a new, powerful class of demons on Earth, and that these new demons have their own plans outside the interests of both Hell and humanity. Ayala finds herself relying on her strength, her wits, and an unexpected ally, as she is caught in the middle of a fight between three warring parties.
Storm in a Teacup is a fun and unusual read: part urban fantasy, part romance, part horror, part hardboiled detective story. It is a fast-paced story with enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing and interested. To me, it was reminiscent of a lot of classic weird tales written by greats like Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore, in which a crazy tale is told with such sincerity that you can’t help but go along for the ride.
Mears does a nice job of fleshing out this alternate reality with enough details to make it feel real, but not so much that all the mystery is removed. She also does a good job of centering the book on a mystery that has important implications for her world, but which leaves plenty of room for bigger and more world-shaking plots in the future.
Which I’m sure was intentional because, of course, there are already two more books in the series! I’m looking forward to reading them soon.