A breezy, fun read, this isn’t so much a fantasy tale as it is a contemporary romantic suspense with some fantasy elements thrown in. While there were many things to enjoy about The Seeker, I’m the wrong person to ask if the fantasy parts work - seems to me these folks would have gotten together even without the Greek gods. Presumably people just like the whimsy.
It seems that the ancient “gods” are actually exiles from the planet d-Alphus. When Earthlings stopped worshipping them, they left Olympus to live among humans where they’ve become successful entrepreneurs. In their spare time, Zeus and Hera dabble in matchmaking, fixing the lives of the modern descendants of people they wronged in the past.
This week’s lucky couple is professional magician Dia Trelawny, a descendant of Leda (of swan fame), and Hugh Pendragon, a psychic private detective (descended from Hades the Soul Seeker). True to his heredity, Hugh’s specialty is finding lost people, although for the last six months his powers have been inexplicably disappearing. Oddly enough, it was six months ago that he first met Dia, when she performed at a museum fund-raiser.
Part of her act involved making a valuable piece of jewelry vanish, then reappear. When it is returned from the museum, Hugh discovers that the real piece, which belongs to him and which has been in his family for generations, has been stolen. What was returned to him is a fake.
The rest of the story revolves around recovering the stolen jewelry, and finding out what part Dia played in the theft and how this all affects Hugh’s powers. Oh yes, there’s also a search for Dia’s sister, who has disappeared, dumping her two sets of 12- and 14-year old twins on the decidedly non-maternal magician.
Dia is quite likable and has several qualities I really like in a heroine, including intelligence, a sense of humor and a sense of proportion. She’s also sexually experienced without being a strumpet, which is a refreshing change.
Hugh Pendragon is sophisticated and attractive, although perhaps a little too enigmatic. Not much disturbs his sang froid, in spite of his fear that life as he knows it is at an end if his powers are gone. The real joy of a cool hero is watching him heat up, but the chill never quite completely leaves Hugh. He is determined to have Dia, though, refusing to be put off by the complexities of her life. He also actually listens to her when she talks, which, simple as it sounds, is a wonderful quality in a romantic hero.
In fact, the book’s one significant problem is that it divides very neatly in two. In the first half, the reader learns the vast majority of important information about the characters, the situation and the mystery. We know who the bad guy is, how the innocent party is being manipulated, where the loot is and how it will likely be recovered. We’re also reasonably confident that Dia and Hugh will be able to overcome the obstacles between them and live happily ever after - particularly with all that divine intervening.
In the second half, the characters then figure everything we already know. This makes fifty per cent of the story vastly more interesting for the characters than it is for the reader. It is to Ms. Nance’s credit that I continued to be as engaged as I was, but the dearth of surprises definitely made the second half of the book less compelling. While Hugh and Dia enjoyed several stirring climaxes, the story itself ultimately had none.
But the characters and the energy made it entertaining nonetheless and, hmmm… I even found myself enjoying the whimsy…