Monday, February 4, 2013

The Mighty Quinn by Paula R. Stiles

The Mighty QuinnQuinn Bolcan is a small-time ex-criminal who has the ability to drain energy from things, be they physical or magical. This talent proves to be beneficial (defusing bombs) and deadly (body heat loss can lead to frostbite). When the story opens, Quinn is unaware of his ability but, over the course of the novel, learns how to control it. Needing to get out of town (Vancouver) after a pot farm raid, he takes on the role of courier. His lawyer has a package that needs to be delivered to Montreal and it "isn't the kind you want to send by Fedex."

While the story could've been about Quinn's cross-country trip (Canada is big and interesting enough), Stiles only details two stops: a bar in the Rockies where Quinn has a run-in with a supernatural biker gang and the delivery of the package in Montreal. They do factor into the novel later on though. The real action happens across the border in Vermont where Quinn accidentally defuses a nuke. The rest of the novel covers Quinn's reluctant assistance to DHS agent Nan Carreira's investigation of the terrorists who set up the bomb in the first place.

Ok, so it's not the best cover. I've seen far worse since I came on board here at the New Podler. I believe that it's meant to convey the swarm of foes that Quinn faces, though a better cover might've been one of him draining the magic out of a zombie or holding a bomb in his hands as he's about to drain it. But I digress.

The story is told in multiple POV's, which enable Stiles to develop her characters. Stiles starts with Quinn's story, told in first person, and then switches to third person to relate Agent Carreira's encounters, along with those of the villains. Considering that a large chunk of the action takes place away from Quinn, this is essential as we'd miss the scheming of the villains, who would otherwise be two-dimensional. Quinn is the strongest, and most likable. We're privy to his thoughts and his wry sense of humor. It's through him that Stiles conveys her mastery of imagery (smells too!).

Stiles could be accused of going overboard with the supernatural stuff. There are lycanthropes, vampires, ghouls, sorcerers, zombies, demons, fairies, and more. There are some naturally occurring events too which, for me, were a bit over the top. These are explained as being a side effect of Quinn's energy draining powers, but I felt this avenue was left unresolved, particularly how he deals with these events.

As for the technicals, the manuscript is fairly well-edited, but it definitely could've used an extra pair of eyes as a few passages fell through the cracks. For example, refer back to the first paragraph of this review. I quoted a passage from the story where Quinn is talking to his lawyer about the package. It says "Fedex" but the proper name for the company is "FedEx".

The Mighty Quinn is an entertaining read. Its titular character carries the story through a gauntlet of supernatural entities and is almost as surprised as we are that he came out the other side. While Stiles is adept at her use of imagery and developing her protagonist, some unresolved elements lead me to think she may have bit off more than she could chew by cramming too much into one novel.

The Mighty Quinn is available in print and on the Kindle. For more information, check out the author's website.

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