Tinker by Wen Spencer

2 Aug
I love it when this happens and I hate it when this happens: after finishing Wen Spencer’s Tinker, I knew I’d found another “repeat” author (where you’re immediately interested in any book they write because you trust that the author will entertain you). The bad part? I’ve looked at Spencer’s backlog and nothing else is really grabbing me. Bummer, right? Tinker is the first in the Elfhome series, of which there are three or four now, I believe. So immediately, I should have two more to read, but here’s a secret about me. I rarely like series – it takes A LOT to get me to move on from the original book I fell in love with and allow the characters to change, grow, form new relationships. I know, it’s weird. It’s like, when I find a story I love, I want it to just stay frozen in time forever so I can revisit it without any surprises. Of course, I have exceptions: Both The Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter series bring me delight in each book. Now that I’m thinking about it, this might just be a problem for me when a) there’s a romantic relationship in the book, and b) when I like the book more because of the characters than for the plot or setting. Yes, I think that’s it. When it’s the author’s voice that I love, or the universe they’ve created (not just in SF/F, but all fiction), or the feelings they evoke, I don’t have that weird, obsessive attachment to the characters remaining unchanged and unspoiled (in my mind). Wow, clearly I don’t like change.

Okay, enough exploration about why I need therapy and on to the book! Tinker centers on Tinker, a brilliant inventor who lives on a salvage lot in Pittsburgh and messes with magical gadgets in her off-time. This alternate Pittsburgh is a part of Elfhome, a magical fairy realm exposed by a portal invented by Tinker’s own father. Whereas magic doesn’t exist in the “regular” world, anyone can encounter it in Elfhome. When an elven lord seeks refuge in her salvage lot from an assassination attempt, Tinker gets pulled into the political machinations and intrigues of the elven court and fairy governmental agencies. There is tons of action, with lots of dramatic escapes, along with a fair amount of romantic flirtation between Tinker and her rescued elven lord, Windwolf. Bits of fantasy and sci-fi intermingle here, and there was just enough of each to keep me fascinated.

The world-building here is extremely intricate and detailed, and I’m not gonna lie, sometimes I got lost. But more in a “man, I need to read more so I can understand this” kind of lost. I just loved the originality of this book – I honestly haven’t read anything quite like it before. The romantic development between Tinker and Windwolf was an obvious treat for me, since I am a sucker for any kind of love story, though there was a potential love triangle situation, which is dreaded and loathed by me at all times. I just….don’t like it. Never have. How can I truly believe that two characters are meant for each other when a third character poses a real appeal? Also, I just really liked spending time with Tinker – she’s not overly smartass in that annoying urban fantasy heroine way, but she does have flaws. Real, human flaws, the kind that make you shake your head at her rather than throw the book across the room in annoyance. Spencer has another series, the Ukiah Oregon series, that’s highly regarded – maybe I should just take a leap of faith and try it?

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8 Responses to “Tinker by Wen Spencer”

  1. Rebecca August 2, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

    I’m trying to define your aversion to change. Is it more when you finish a novel and it looks like the characters are going to go on together forever (in love), and then you start the next and they’re on the fritz? Or their love turns out to not be “enough” (to overcome hurdles, personal differences, etc.) in the sequel.

    Have you tried Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan series? I can’t tell if you would like them or not. They’re fantasy, so fast-paced that I feel they’re the kind of books you could reread from the beginning of the series before each new installment just to remember all the things you might have rushed through the first time, and really entertaining and unique in the world. But the main character does some growing. Some huge growing. It’s one of my favorite things about the series. The Rachel Morgan of book one is not the Rachel Morgan of book four. (BTW, that’s also why I liked Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake series, back in books 1-7 or 8, because Blake was going through all kinds of changes in each book, not just screwing new people in each book and becoming slightly more powerful each time, as has happened in books 9-whatever.)

    Have you tried Jacqueline Carey yet? Another amazing world builder, fantasy, with characters that you feel were real people in your life by the time you’re done. In fact, she might be more your style, because while the characters grow, they don’t change a lot over the course of their books. (Please approach Carey with the caveat that I ADORE her, so I’m possibly too biased to give a good recommendation here. Though, two other people who I’ve recommended them to have agreed the books are both fabulous and dangerous, because once you start reading one, the rest of life seems less important than continuing to read.)

    I think Tinker sounds totally up my alley. I need to print my list of JCK recommends to take with me to the bookstore, because I seriously need to make a dent in it!

    • Amanda August 3, 2012 at 9:50 am #

      I’m trying to put my finger on what it is that I don’t like about “change” in some series. I think that, when I like the series because of a strong connection to the main character or because of a central romantic relationship, I don’t like it when, in following books, the relationship gets all mucked up because the author needs to throw in some conflict. I mean, I get why the author wants to do that, but for me, no bueno. I don’t always hate change, just when I want that relationship to remain perfect and crystallized forever. 🙂

      I think I may have tried Kim Harrison a couple years ago and for whatever reason, didn’t get hooked. Is the main character a witch? I might be thinking of something else.

      • Rebecca August 3, 2012 at 9:55 am #

        Yep, main character is a witch.

        Do you ever read Jayne Ann Krentz? She typically has her romantic couple get together early on in the books, then work together to solve an outside problem (as well as their own inner conflict). I always liked them because it wasn’t a book of relationship angst with two pages of happy at the end.

        • Amanda August 3, 2012 at 11:17 am #

          Haha, yes! I like some balance of happiness with my angst! I’ll def give Jayne Ann Krentz a try. I’m in the mood for a book with a more straightforward relationship – I just finished a Julie James contemporary and the characters were just so mature and rational. Thank you Jesus.

          • Rebecca August 3, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

            Krentz writes under three names. Krentz is contemporary romance, Amanda Quick is historical romance, and Jayne Castle is paranormal romance. I hope you like her, because she’s written more than Danielle Steel.

            … In an attempt to back up that wild claim I just wrote, I found this site: http://www.romancewiki.com/Prolific_Romance_Authors. As of whenever that site was created, Krentz had written 143 novels. And here I was proud of my 6 (unpublished) novels! I need to step up my game if I’m ever going to come close to Barbara Cartland at 723. That woman was a writing machine!

  2. Mooncatx August 20, 2012 at 8:34 am #

    Wen Spencer isn’t just a ‘repeat’ author, =D, she’s Comfort Book author. At any given time I reach out and grab ANY book she’s written and open it smack in the middle and start reading… and it’s just so good that any number of previous readings does not dull the enjoyment at all. Look at the Tinker series as one huge book that you only read the First Part of, there is still more of the SAME book to go. And if it helps, events in book two Wolf Who Rules, is only a few weeks/months later, and Elfhome brings us to the end of the FIRST YEAR of Tinker in her adventure.

    Also Ukiah is SO GOOD, I had nothing NEW to read today so I just grabbed one at random (book 3) and startared reading it again. Yes, as wonderful and tasty as a favorite meal. Having eaten it once before doesn’t dull the enjoyment of having it again later.

    I envy you, cuz ALL of Wen Spencer’s books are AWESOME. Read anything she writes, it’s all highest quality.

    • Mooncatx August 20, 2012 at 8:41 am #

      ps. No romantic triangle. None of her books have anything like romantic triangles. The lead character is pretty clear headed about who makes their moters run and don’t get tangled up like the current plot du jour so many other writers use religiously.

    • Amanda August 20, 2012 at 10:36 am #

      Wow, what a recommendation! You’ve convinced me – I think I just needed some reassurance. Since I cherish my comfort book authors so much, I love to hear about others’ comfort book authors and always hope they’ll become one of mine too. I’ll track down Wolf Who Rules and post a review when I’m done. And thanks also for the reassurance re: romantic love triangles (boo! hiss!). 🙂

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