Smoke and Shadows is the first in a trilogy that follows Tony Foster, a young gay man trying to make his way in Vancouver’s film scene while also dealing with mysterious supernatural forces and his possessive vampire ex-boyfriend (as they try to be just friends).
The Smoke series technically follows Tanya Huff’s Blood series, where Tony is a minor character. However, if you don’t want to suffer through a M/F romance, it is really not necessary to have read the Blood series first. I didn’t, and I am still enjoying the Smoke series. There are vague references to the events of some books from the prior series, so if that bothers you, you might have quite a few more books to read. For me, it doesn’t take away from my understanding or enjoyment of the book.
In Smoke and Shadows we find Tony working for a Vancouver production company that produces a low grade vampire detective television series. Everything is normal until it isn’t. Suddenly shadows are coming to life, possessing people, and causing general chaos. With his experience with the supernatural, Tony tries to take on the shadows to save the normalcy he now has in his life.
Smoke and Shadows is a light read. It’s an early Urban Fantasy novel, before the genre had really taken off. It was a fun book that I enjoyed reading and that set the stage for what to expect out of the next two books in the trilogy. Smoke and Shadows was a good palate cleanser, to break up some of the more serious books I’ve been reading.
It seems like Smoke and Shadows is setting up a romance with one of Tony’s coworkers, but with just a single date, and some on set flirting, it is hard to know for sure. Otherwise, there isn’t much in the way of romance. This isn’t a sexy paranormal m/m romance. It’s an urban fantasy with a gay protagonist.
It was interesting to read a book that was set in a town I grew up in. I spent 18 years living in the Burnaby neighborhood where the book is mainly set. It was strange to see landmarks and read street names that I knew. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that a book based around television production would be set there, my neighbourhood was (and still is) a hotbed of television production. I grew up watching shows being filmed on the corner of my street.
All in all, an enjoyable queer, Canadian read! I love seeing Canadian authors writing queer science-fiction and fantasy.