Literature / Smoke and Shadows
The Smoke and Shadows
trilogy is a followup to Tanya Huff
's Blood Books
. It takes place a few years after the end of the Blood series, in Vancouver
, and features Tony Foster as the lead character. His ex Henry also appears in the series.
Tony is a 20-something gay production assistant on the Vampire Detective Series
show Darkest Night
, who discovers that their "special effects wizard" Arra Pelindrake is an actual wizard. And Tony is one as well. After they fight off the invasion of a Shadowlord from Arra's own world, Tony is left alone to deal with any and all supernatural things that happen to the Darkest Night
cast and crew.
The books are:
- Smoke and Shadows
- Smoke and Mirrors
- Smoke and Ashes
There is also a published short story, "See Me", in the anthology Those Who Fight Monsters: Tales of Occult Detectives
Provides examples of:
- A House Divided: Smoke and Mirrors.
- All Part of the Show: Used at one point to keep the police from getting involved in the events of the book. "The only supernatural events happening here are the ones on my set."
- Alternate Universe: Arra's homeworld, which is inhabited by humans who have developed magic to a greater extent than technology. The wizards there seem to have confirmed the "Many-Worlds Interpretation" of quantum physics, but had only begun to develop the scientific/magical principles needed to travel between worlds. Arra was the first to actually succeed at doing so.
- Another Dimension: Usually where demons come from. Some are considered to be "Hell's", while others are just occupied by unpleasant, but not necessarily magical, creatures.
- Badass Normal: Chester Bane. In the words of Henry, himself a badass vampire prince, "CB is a law unto himself."
- Bi the Way: Henry for sure. Lee is either bisexual or a Straight Gay, and this is debated throughout the series.
- He was definitely attracted to Leah. However, being thousands of years old, Leah is amused that people think that there is only straight or gay.
- In the short story "See Me", set several years after Smoke and Ashes, Lee is canonically established as being bisexual, but he and Tony now live together in a committed monogamous relationship that is an open secret in the Vancouver entertainment industry.
- Brother-Sister Incest: Stephen and Cassie
- Casting a Shadow: The Shadowlord's preferred magic.
- Chekhov's Coffee Shop, even plays on the page quote.
- Closet Key: Tony proves to be this for Lee.
- Demonic Possession: Sentient shadows, ghosts...ironically, actual "demons" are the only ones not really joining in on the fun.
- Deus Sex Machina: Leah, Henry, and Tony have to have a threesome in order to save the world (or for Tony to communicate with a demonlord who can't perceive anyone who isn't attracted to his handmaiden.)
- Distracted by the Sexy: Leah uses this often. In her case it often goes all the way to "distracted by the sex."
- Distressed Dude: Even if he's not a girl, and not incompetent, Lee is the Mary Jane to Tony's Peter Parker. (He certainly does seem to get targeted because of Tony.) And boy, does Lee ever get sick of it.
- Driven to Suicide: Smoke and Mirrors
- Even the Guys Want Him: The Running Gag is that "evil is always after [Tony's] ass!" Defied in the third book, where Leah's exclusively heterosexual Demonlord is aware that Tony desires him, and is mildly amused at most.
- Everyone Can See It: Tony and Lee's mutual crushes on each other. Unresolved Sexual Tension abounds there.
- Extra-Strength Masquerade: Other than constable Jack and tabloid reporter Kevin Groves, the city of Vancouver at large is oblivious to all the supernatural weirdness that goes on, especially around CB Productions. CB has no qualms about bringing in insurance claims adjusters after demonic creatures damage his set. At one point a demon even crashes a coffee house. But it was a Goth club so it may not count, even though it turns out that Goths are less excited to meet real demons than one might expect.
- First-Person Smartass: Hilariously so.
- Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Henry
- Functional Magic: Wizards use an Inherent Gift and Rule Magic to manipulate energies. There's also some Theurgy (the Light of Yeramathia)
- Genre Savvy: Most of the characters work in TV production and Henry writes romance novels. They are very much aware of the tropes in their lives. CB is even willing to lampshade how cliche and derivative the plot of the second book is.
- In the short story "See Me", when Jack asks Tony where the heck he goes to get information about supernatural beings, Tony responds that he goes to talk to the show's writers.
- Ghostly Chill: The ghosts of Caulfield House.
- Glamour Failure: Stephen and Cassie are able to become visible and appear normal by drawing on all the heat energy from the filming set, but once Tony sees them in a mirror the illusion no longer works and he can see their real forms.
- Haunted Headquarters: Caulfield House, where Darkest Night is filming an episode.
- Healing Magic Is the Hardest: Actually, the healing itself is not so difficult. But in being healed you must experience all the pain that you normally would over the course of the time it would take for your injuries to heal naturally - all at once!
- Hemo Erotic: Tony definitely still feels arousal at the thought of Henry feeding from him, which contributes to the lingering tension in their relationship now that they are no longer together. It is implied that Henry and CB have some kind of relationship of this sort going on as well.
- Heroic Bastard: Henry
- I Always Wanted to Say That: In the third book, someone makes a comment about "six kinds of hell breaking loose and coming your way." When called on it, he cheerfully admits he's just been waiting for his chance.
- I See Dead People: Smoke and Mirrors has almost everyone other than Tony seeing them by the end of the book. Graham is also a medium.
- Immortality Immorality: Tony is a bit unsettled by Leah's rather indifferent attitude about the lives of mortal humans, especially since she does not perceive their lives as being as valuable as her own despite how long she has lived.
- Invisible to Normals: The ghosts of Caulfield House are not visible except to people like Tony (a wizard) or Graham (a medium). Other people can only vaguely sense them.
- James Bondage
- Lampshade Hanging: tons and tons of it, given the subject matter; Tony and his pals, after all, work on a Vampire Detective Series.
- Large Ham: Mason Reed, who plays Raymond Dark on Darkest Night
- Light 'em Up: The Light of Yeramathia.
- Living Forever Is Awesome: Leah couldn't be further away from Who Wants to Live Forever? if she tried.
- Living Lie Detector: Kevin Groves. Naturally, he's a tabloid reporter. Unfortunately for him this is a case of Useless Superpowers, since many of the truths he uncovers are so fantastical that the only place they can get printed is a tabloid.
- Magic Is a Monster Magnet: Henry's (a vampire) presence tends to draw other supernatural beings into his vicinity. Tony, as one of the few true wizards (as opposed to specialty occultists) on Earth only increases the weirdness levels in the Vancouver area.
- Magic Versus Science: Magic involves the manipulation of energy. Potentially all forms of it. Certain magic thus interferes with the use of technological devices. For example, cell phones do not work on the set of CB Productions because of the dimensional gate located there. Caulfield House drains energy from electrical devices and interferes with radio communications. However, whether magic and science are antithetical is somewhat a matter of point of view for people from Tony's world. On Arra's world magic basically fills the role normally occupied by science, and she has little difficulty combining the two disciplines. She even uses computers for divination (via games of Spider Solitaire) and to mathematically model the required parameters to create dimensional gateways.
- Magical Computer: Arra's laptop
- Mind-Control Device: The Shadowlord, upon discovering television and the way it creates "shadows made of light" sees it as a potentially very easy way to quickly take over the world.
- Moral Myopia: Creighton Caufield expresses the disgust over Tony's homosexuality that one might expect from a moralistic person from his era. The fact that he's the ghost of a necromancer who feeds off the energy generated by tormented captive souls as part of a bid to become a Lovecraftian Eldritch Abomination somewhat undermines his claim to rectitude however.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Arra actually had no intention of ever returning to her own world or facing the Shadowlord again. But his relentless searching for her, sending shadow minions through the gate to seek her out and even coming to Earth himself, bolsters Tony's arguments that she needs to stop hiding and face him once and for all.
- Nigh-Invulnerability: Leah, thanks to an "oops, I wrote that wrong" moment her demon lord had, can't be injured or age. When a demon draws a wee bit of blood from her, she's terrified.
- The Obi-Wan: Arra, subverted in that she doesn't die, just leaves the dimension.
- Occult Detective: Tony increasingly ends up in this role as his prowess as a wizard grows.
- Our Demons Are Different: Many are simply the wildlife of their native dimensions, and are not especially intelligent nor possess magical powers. The more intelligent ones refer to their kind as "arjh", with the most powerful being mostly humanoid, immortal, magic-using beings. Leah's demonlord once took on a God Guise in the ancient Near East, which is where she became one of his handmaidens.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: Most of the ones in Caulfield House are being held there against their wills and forced to reenact their deaths.
- Perky Goth: Amy
- The Pornomancer: Leah
- The Power of Friendship: What gives Tony the support he needs.
- Powered by a Forsaken Child: Creighton Caulfield used his mentally-retarded son Richard as a medium to channel the negative psychic energy he was gathering inside Caulfield House. When Richard unexpectedly died, his father had to adjust his plans. However, Richard continued to linger in the house as a ghost, and his presence served to anchor the other ghosts inside until Tony convinced him to Go Into the Light, taking the other ghosts with him.
- Protectorate CB Productions
- Red Shirt and Mauve Shirt: Let's just say that being an extra on Darkest Night is more hazardous than it ought to be. The cast and crew aren't entirely safe either, but as a rule the closer they are to Tony the less likely they are to die.
- Relationship Upgrade: Tony and Lee do eventually end up together.
- Sidekick: Lee plays the show's sidekick. Henry is now Tony's sidekick. Also, pretty much everyone wants to be Tony's.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Mason.
- Sorcerous Overlord: The Shadowlord plays this trope completely straight.
- Soul Power: Creighton Caulfield harnesses this.
- Spirit Advisor: Stephen and Cassie to Tony
- Spoiled Brat: Ashley and Brianna both.
- Summon to Hand: The "Come To Me" spell, which Tony becomes very adept with.
- Tabloid Melodrama: something Lee has to worry about.
- Training the Gift of Magic: Although Tony first exhibited the ability to use magic in Smoke and Shadows, he had only been devoting occasional effort to study the magical lessons on the laptop Arra left for him. This bites him in the ass in Smoke and Mirrors, as he seriously had need of more magic than he knew. By Smoke and Ashes he has been putting more effort into studying and is on his way to becoming quite powerful by the standards of supernatural beings in his world.
- True Companions: CB Productions.
- They Battle Demons!: Some with great enthusiasm, others because they don't want anything messing with their production schedule.
- Undead Child: Stephen, Cassie, and Karl
- The Unmasqued World: by the middle of book 2, a large number of people at CB Productions are well aware of the supernatural goings-on and what Tony is. And they want in on the action. By book 3 they are a fighting team.
- Vampire Detective Series: Darkest Night, the Show Within The Show. "Hey! We've got the highest numbers of any vampire detective show in syndication!" "That and a buck seventeen will buy you a bad cup of coffee."
- Weirdness Censor: Goes hand-in-hand with the Extra-Strength Masquerade. Most people instinctively rationalize away any metaphysical phenomena that they witness. Several supernatural individuals actually express shock that people like Tony and CB recognize the paranormal on sight and acknowledge that it is real without first going through denial.
- Weirdness Magnet: CB Productions, but there's a good reason for it. Both Henry and Tony also have a history of this individually.
- Wizarding School: Utterly subverted, since Tony's new mentor Arra takes off for her own dimension and he has to learn via trial, error, and the Magical Computer she left him.
- Wizards Live Longer: Arra is 137, and while not young, she is not elderly either.
- World of Snark: Just about everybody, which means that Snark-to-Snark Combat is the normal mode of conversation.
- Your Vampires Suck: Tony complains to Henry early in Smoke and Shadows that the showrunners of Darkest Night don't know anything about vampires. Henry's response? "Good."