Huff, Tanya 1957–
Huff, Tanya 1957–
(Terri Hanover, T.S. Huff, Tanya Sue Huff)
Born September 26, 1957, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; partner of Fiona Patton. Education: Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, B.A.A. (radio and television arts).
Home—Milford, Ontario, Canada. Agent—c/o Joshua Bilmes, Jabberwocky, P.O. Box 4558, Sunnyside, NY 11104-0558.
Bakka (science-fiction bookstore), Toronto, Ontario, Canada, manager and buyer, 1984–92; writer. Military service: Canadian Naval Reserve, three years.
CASPER nomination, 1987, for "And Who Is Joah?," and 1990, for Gate of Darkness, Circle of Light; Aurora Award finalist, 1995, for No Quarter.
Child of the Grove, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1988.
The Last Wizard, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1989.
Gate of Darkness, Circle of Light, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1989.
The Fire's Stone, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1990.
Blood Price, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1991.
Blood Trail, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1992.
Blood Lines, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1993.
Blood Pact, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1993.
Sing the Four Quarters, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1994.
Fifth Quarter, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1995.
Scholar of Decay, TSR, Inc. (Lake Geneva, WI), 1995.
No Quarter, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1996.
Summon the Keeper, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1998.
What Ho, Magic!, Meisha Merlin (Decatur, GA), 1999.
Stealing Magic: The Complete Adventures of Magdelene and Terazin, Tesseract Books (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), 1999.
Valor's Choice, DAW Books (New York, NY), 2000.
The Second Summoning, DAW Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Of Darkness, Light, and Fire, DAW Books (New York, NY), 2001.
The Better Part of Valor, DAW Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Relative Magic, Meisha Merlin (Atlanta, GA), 2003.
Long Hot Summoning, DAW Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Smoke and Shadows, DAW Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Smoke and Mirrors, DAW Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Stealing Magic, Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), 2005.
Women of War, DAW Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Smoke and Ashes, DAW Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor of short stories to books, including Magic in Ithkar, No. 3, edited by Andre Norton and Robert Adams, Tor Books, 1986, and Dracula in London, Ace, 2001. Contributor, sometimes under names T.S. Huff and Terri Hanover, of novellas and short stories to periodicals, including Amazing Stories. Contributor of book reviews to Toronto Globe.
Canadian fantasy novelist Tanya Huff was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, but was raised primarily in Kingston, Ontario. Before becoming an author of fantasy novels for young adults, Huff spent three years in the Canadian Naval Reserve where she worked as a cook. "They'd just opened [the Naval Reserve] to women" the author recalled in an interview with Paranormal Romance. "I figured it would be the first trade that would send women to sea…. Unfortunately it happened a year after I left." After leaving the Canadian Naval Reserve, Huff pursued a degree in radio and television arts from the Ryerson Polytechnical Institute. She lived in Toronto and for eight years worked at Bakka, one of the oldest science-fiction book stores established in North America. While working at Bakka Huff wrote seven novels and several short stories. In 1992 she moved from Toronto to the rural town of St. Lawrence where she pursued writing on a full-time basis. Huff's young-adult novels often feature wizards, magical evil, goddesses, a good measure of adventure, and other fantasy elements. In addition to these more traditional fantasy novels, Huff is also the author of a series of books featuring a woman detective who has a vampire for a partner and a full caseload of supernatural crimes.
Although most fantasy battles between good and evil play out as adventure stories, Huff's second novel, The Last Wizard, features an internal battle. The wizard, Crystal, was created when seven goddesses merged into one in order to win the battle against evil. Now that evil is no longer a threat, the goddesses want their separate identities back, and Crystal must struggle to literally keep herself together. At the same time, she embarks on an adventure with two brothers who are searching for the tower of the ancient and evil wizard Aryalan. Challenges are encountered along the way, but the greatest are faced at the tower in the form of traps set by Aryalan several years ago. "The situation is highly original; the characters well developed and unique," maintained Joanne M. Riley in Voice of Youth Advocates, the critic adding: "Much of the success of this book is due to the finely crafted writing style."
The modern city of Toronto is the setting for Huff's 1989 fantasy novel Gate of Darkness, Circle of Light. The city is threatened by a magical evil because very few of its inhabitants still believe in magic. Among those who join together to fight this approaching darkness are a mentally disadvantaged woman able to see things others cannot, a bag lady, a street musician, and a social worker.
The three heroes of The Fire's Stone are also thrown together in order to protect their city: Aaron, a thief; Darvish, the king's third son who has saved Aaron's life; and Chandra, an aspiring Wizard of Nine and Darvish's reluctant fiancée. When the Stone of Ischia, which guards the city from a volcano, is stolen, Aaron, Darvish, and Chandra each bring special talents and weaknesses to their pursuit of the thief as they try to save the city. A Publishers Weekly reviewer observed that The Fire's Stone is fun to read because of the "delightful camaraderie of three unlikely heroes and well-controlled fantasy elements that are integral to the plot."
Private Detective Vicki Nelson is introduced in Huff's 1991 novel, Blood Price, and she reappears in Blood Trail, Blood Lines, and Blood Pact. Previously a police officer, Nelson is now faced with finding a person who is killing people and draining their blood in Blood Price. As the murders accumulate, the media reports that it is the work of a vampire, accusations actual vampire Henry Fitzroy do not appreciate. Nelson and Fitzroy eventually team up to solve the case. "The characterization is excellent in this tale," related Karen S. Ellis in a review for Kliatt, adding that "Huff's craft improves with each novel."
Blood Trail also involves the supernatural, this time in the form of a family of werewolves: the Heerkens. Someone has killed two members of their family, and family friend Fitzroy goes to Nelson for help. The case grows in complexity as attacks on the Heerkens continue and Detective Sergeant Mike Cellucci, Nelson's former partner and sometime-love interest, is assigned to the case. Samantha Hunt, looking forward to another book in the series, wrote in Voice of Youth Advocates that Huff's "first two [series installments] are fun, with entertaining characters, wry humor, crazy plots, glimpses of horror, the occult, romance, and just a dollop of sex."
After facing down a mummy that poses a serious threat to the city of Toronto in Huff's third book in the series, Blood Lines, Nelson must contend with more than just her mother's death when the deceased woman's animated corpse disappears from the funeral home in Blood Pact. In the meantime, Nelson becomes romantically involved with both Fitzroy and Cellucci, and is forced to choose between them. "Huff takes a wild mix of genres and weaves them into a surprisingly successful fantasy-mystery series," asserted Carolyn Cushman in her review of Blood Lines in Locus. Hunt, in her Voice of Youth Advocates review of Blood Pact, concluded: "Huff has retained her humor along with her horror, her characters have continued to develop, and her plots are quirky and original. All we can hope is that she'll have something new out there soon."
Huff introduces readers to protagonist Claire Hansen in Summon the Keeper. As a "Keeper" Hansen is responsible for keeping a balance between good and evil by sealing up the holes that separate the earthbound world from the world of magic. Hansen is summoned to the Elysian Fields Guesthouse and soon finds that she has been mislead and ends up becoming the home's caretaker. A series of mysteries are unveiled during her stay at Elysian Fields: Hansen finds another keeper under of spell of slumber on the third floor of the house and she finds a deep pit leading to hell in the furnace room of the home. Hansen is not alone in her quest to seal the hole; her talking cat Austin aides her in her mission, as does Dean, Elysian Fields' housekeeper. Jackie Cas-sada, writing in Library Journal, acknowledged Huff for her ability to exhibit "a sharp humor and a knack for creating unforgettable characters." Similarly, Margo MacDonald noted in Science Fiction and Fantasy that Summon the Keeper "is entertainment pure and simple" and added "Huff tells a great story, but never takes herself too seriously."
The Second Summoning serves as a sequel to Summon the Keeper and, continues the story of Hansen and her attempts to secure the worlds of darkness and light. The novel rejoins Hanson, Dean, and Austin and also introduces Hansen's younger sister, Diana, and Hansen's friend, Lena. The Second Summoning focuses in on a demon who terrorizes the city of Toronto, a blonde-haired ghost, and a multitude of subway demons. Margo MacDonald, reviewing the novel for Science Fiction and Fantasy, claimed that the story line of The Second Summoning is not as developed as the first chronicle and lacks "the balance and fine-tuning of the original, in which the comedy enriched the story and emotional life of the characters." Nonetheless, MacDonald concluded that "The Second Summoning is still a rather enjoyable romp … [with] many great ideas and moments that make reading this sequel worthwhile."
Huff turns to the characters Henry Fitzroy and Tony Foster—originally established in the "Blood" series—in her 2004 publication Smoke and Shadows. Deemed by Booklist Kristine Huntley an "exciting, creepy adventure," Smoke and Shadows finds Tony Foster, a former street kid, working as a production assistant for a television show that features vampirism as its theme. Things are thrown off course, though, when Foster finds one of the show's guest stars dead in her dressing room. In an effort to unravel the mystery, he turns to four-hundred-year-old vampire Fitzroy. Foster and Fitzroy soon discover that Shadows are the culprit: they are capable of moving, whispering, and killing. The pair then call on wizard Arra Pelindrake to assist in their obliteration of the Shadows. Michelle Sagara, writing in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, commented that Huff's "trademark dialogue, her character interactions, her cutting wit and her clever, if black humor" makes Smoke and Shadows a worthwhile purchase. Likewise, Cassada observed in Library Journal that Huff's keen writing sensibility "lends a sense of timeliness to this effortless told fantasy mystery." A continuation of Smoke and Shadows, Smoke and Mirrors follows Foster and Fitzroy as they discover a haunted house full of ghosts that are reenacting their deaths. Library Journal reviewer Cas-sada remarked that the originator of the "Blood" chronicles "has once again proven herself a master of urban fantasy."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, November 1, 1989, p. 528; April 15, 2004, Kris-tine Huntley, review of Smoke and Shadows, p. 384.
Kliatt, September, 1991, Karen S. Ellis, review of Blood Price, p. 24.
Library Journal, May 15, 1988, p. 95; November 15, 1989, p. 108; April 15, 1998, Jackie Cassada, review of Summon the Keeper, p. 119; March 15, 2004, Jackie Cassada, review of Smoke and Shadows, p. 110; June 15, 2005, Jackie Cassada, review of Smoke and Mirrors, p. 65.
Locus, November, 1992, Carolyn Cushman, review of Blood Lines, p. 29; October, 1993, p. 27; February, 1994, p. 75.
Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, September, 2004, Michelle Sagara, review of Smoke and Shadows, p. 107.
Publishers Weekly, August 24, 1990, review of The Fire's Stone, p. 59.
Voice of Youth Advocates, October, 1989, Joanne M. Riley, review of The Last Wizard, p. 224; April, 1991, pp. 43-44; June, 1992, Samantha Hunt, review of Blood Trail, p. 109; February, 1994, Samantha Hunt, review of Blood Pact, p. 382.
Fantastic Fiction Web site, http://fantasticfiction.co.uk/ (May 4, 2006), "About Tanya Huff."
Paranormal Romance Web site, http://writerspace.com/ (May 4, 2006), "Tanya Huff."
Science Fiction and Fantasy Web site, http://www.sfsite.com/ (May 4, 2006), "Tanya Huff,"Margo MacDonald, review of Summon the Keeper and The Second Summoning.