C.E. Murphy,
Baba Yaga's Daughter & Other Tales of the Old Races
(Subterranean Press, 2012)

Janx, a dragonlord, and Eliseo Daisani, a vampire, are recurring characters from C.E. Murphy's Negotiator trilogy, which sets a contemporary lawyer at odds with various members of the old races that live among us. I've never read the series, so I don't know much about these guys; I'm told they have a love-hate relationship of sorts -- best of friends and worst of enemies, that sort of thing.

They rarely seem like enemies in Baba Yaga's Daughter & Other Tales of the Old Races, a new collection of short stories from Murphy. They're friends with the familiarity of many long years, and they have a friendly rivalry that includes -- but is not limited to -- competition for women's affections.

And there are plenty of women here to consider, including not one but TWO who claim kinship to Baba Yaga, the infamous Russian witch. There's Baba Yaga herself, of course, as well as Vanessa Gray, a cardship who holds Daisani's heart, an old-school vampire slayer who puts Buffy to shame and Margrit Knight, the eponymous negotiator of the aforementioned series. They stretch out over time and distance, popping up in places as diverse as Russia and Rome, burning Chicago and tripping Woodstock.

The relationship between Janx and Daisani is certainly strained by the end of the book, however, and I wish there was one more story to tell us what happened next. (I'm sure one is on its way, if it hasn't already been answered in the Negotiator books.) There's a death, too, that I didn't fully understand; I wish the reasons had been explained a little more clearly, but I might have been especially dense that day.

It's a solid collection of stories that only hints at the depths to which Murphy has taken (and, I assume, will continue to take) the development of these characters and the mysterious contemporary world they inhabit. Although Murphy has concluded her Negotiator trilogy, she is expanding on the theme with various books in her Old Races line. Check it out.

book review by
Tom Knapp

30 June 2012

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