Midnight Enchantments: Tim Powers
By Cerridwen Iris Shea
Remember Compuserve Forums? That’s how long it’s been since the first time I read a Tim Powers novel. I was on a readers’ forum in Compuserve, and I wanted an interesting book, something unlike anything I’d ever read before. One of the other forum members, knowing I read tarot cards, suggested Tim Powers’s novel LAST CALL, where one of the major plot actions is high stakes poker using tarot.
I loved the way Celtic mythology of the Fisher King wove within the urban fantasy context set, in all places, Vegas. I love the way tarot wove through it. I couldn’t put it down — I read it straight through. The magic within the book had its own momentum. You couldn’t see how Scott could win against these odds, and yet couldn’t bear him to lose.
It’s one of those books I’ve been afraid to re-read in the intervening years, afraid I won’t love it as much as I did the first time I read it. The breathless joy with which it captured me might never be recreated. But I know it’s in a box downstairs, waiting to be unpacked in the new house, and I know, when I finally unpack it, I’ll re-read it.
Quite a few years passed before I read the other books in the trilogy, EXPIRATION DATE and EARTHQUAKE WEATHER. I enjoyed them, but none of the others packed the punch to me of LAST CALL.
I’ve read many of his other novels through the years. THE STRESS OF HER REGARD, with a premise of Byron and Shelley dealing with vampires, and THE DRAWING OF THE DARK, about a struggle between Muslim and Christian magicians were my favorites. DECLARE, on the other hand, just annoyed me. I felt like he was hitting me over the head with a religious two by four, and I didn’t like it. And then I felt guilty about the reaction, because I’d always held his work in such high esteem.
You can learn more about LAST CALL and Tim Powers’s other work here.
–Cerridwen Iris Shea wrote for Llewellyn Worldwide for sixteen years. She writes the Merry’s Dalliance Pirate Fantasies, and teaches workshops all over the world. This is her busy season. Visit her website: www.cerridwenscottage.com