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Literature / Bedlam Boyz

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Bedlam Boyz Is an Urban Fantasy novel by Ellen Guon Beeman, published in 1993 by Baen Books. Prequel to Knights of Ghosts & Shadows and Summoned To Tourney.

Los Angeles runaway Kayla Smith was living the street life: hanging out with fellow runaways, sleeping in an abandoned office complex, and navigating the crime-filled world of the '90s. But when one of her friends is gunned down, Kayla discovers she has healing powers. She heals her friend—and the gang member who shot him. Now the city's gangs seek to use her magic for crime, and she attracts the attention of evil elves.

The book can be read at Baen’s free online library:


Bedlam Boyz contains examples of:

  • Big Bad: Nataniel the elf, who uses the drug dealers of Los Angeles to distribute his narcotics.
  • Black Magic: In addition to her healing magic, Kayla discovers a spell that can suck the life out of someone’s body, which she promptly reverses.
  • Cold Iron: The elves seem nervous around metal things like airplanes and handguns, using the words “cold iron” to describe them.
  • Covers Always Lie: The cover shows Kayla with long hair, even though she cuts it short early on. It also shows her hands lit up in gold, even though her magic is described as “blue fire.”
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Kayla wears a black leather jacket throughout the story, but she heals everyone, even her enemies.
  • Enchanted Forest: Inverted. The land of the elves is a dying world with dead trees and a lack of wildlife.
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  • Escapism: Kayla desperately wants to get back to her old life. She is frequently seen reading a fantasy book about horses.
  • Evil, Inc.: Nataniel’s pharmaceutical company. It distributes drugs to dealers in Los Angeles, among other crimes to make money from humans.
  • Gangbangers: The two gangs depicted are the Tyrone Street Boys (Hispanic) and the T-Men (black).
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Used only rarely by the Hispanic characters, except that they always call Kayla “bruja,” meaning “witch.”
  • Healing Factor: In addition to healing others, Kayla can recover from damage within a few seconds, although it's still painful.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Kayla always wears a leather jacket, because she thinks it's cool.
  • Jive Turkey: Razz, the T-Men gang leader, sometimes slips into talking like this.
  • Magical Negro: Zig-zagged. Elizabet teaches Kayla magic lessons. However, Elizabet is a police psychologist, so it’s her job to help runaway kids, though she eventually adopts Kayla. Elizabet was originally taught magic by her grandmother, a former slave in the South, who shows up as a ghost to also assist Kayla.
  • Magical Weapon: The silver elven swords are hidden from normal eyes and summoned when needed.
  • The Medic: Invoked by Carlos, who wants to attack the T-Men and then use Kayla as his gang’s medic.
  • Murder by Inaction: Kayla heals everyone, even people who try to kill her. Until the very end, when she refuses to heal Carlos and lets him die so she can be free of his influence.
  • Must Have Caffeine: The drink of choice for most of the characters is Coca-Cola.
  • Not in Kansas Anymore: Kayla says this when she's banished to the elven realm.
  • Our Elves Are Different: The novel portrays elves as universally evil, or at the least callously indifferent. Nataniel uses humans as pawns to earn money, while the Queen of the Unseelie is a tyrant even to her own people.
  • Our Ogres Are Hungrier: Kayla meets an ogre who eats the remains of gang members killed in shoot-outs.
  • Parental Abandonment: Kayla’s parents disappeared when she was twelve years old.
  • Proud Warrior Race: The elves all carry swords and armor, magically concealed under their human disguises. They can just use magic spells to kill people, but it seems they prefer melee weapons.
  • Recessive Super Genes: Elizabet’s parents had no magic, but her grandmother did, and taught Elizabet everything she knew.
  • The Runaway: Kayla and her original friends Billy and Leann were runaways. They survived by shoplifting, and they lived in an abandoned office.
  • Spirit Advisor: Elizabet’s grandmother returns as a ghost to help Kayla learn more about her magic.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: After Carlos’ gang kidnaps Kayla, she starts to develop feelings for Carlos’ brother Ramon, and worrying about what would happen without her there to heal the gang’s wounds.
  • Supernatural Sensitivity: All of the magic characters can sense the use of magic from others, and attempt to conceal it, though this detection skill must be learned.