What The Markhat Series Aren’t:
No overlong, flowery, adverby descriptions; no page-long information dumps describing how this magic system works or the world topography from east to west; no excessively snarky voice that disturbs the emotional balance, destroying both tension and compassion. They do not suffer from excess oinkism; in this one, two elderly ladies (well, to be honest, neither are ‘ladies’ in the world-definition sense of the word), and a mother-daughter duo play significant roles, and I didn’t catch Tuttle describing in terms of natural chauvinism (“As a man, I must protect these women and children!”) or sexability. That’s a selling point right there.
Mama Hog, always somewhat suspect for shenanigans, introduces a new client to Markat–Granny, a local spirit doctor. Granny has her own suspect client, a ghost who has contacted her and wants her to find his long-lost wife and daughter. He’s a troubled ghost and wants to turn over a bag of gold to his family in compensation for years of absence. Markhat, very skeptically, takes the job, convinced enough by the gold coins. However, when he starts investigating, he discovers few leads. The local community suffered a devastating fire during that same time and no one remembers the widow and her daughter. Markhat becomes the target of attacks, both corporeal and spiritual. Is Granny for real? Running a con on Markhat? Or is she being duped?
What This Book Is:
It feels like a fantasy interpretation of a ghost story–enjoyable and just a little sinister. It was a solid read both times through, and I admire the sparing way he has his lead maintain skepticism, his humor fading as the story builds danger. Something about Tuttle’s writing is so solid, the voice clear and just a little familiar. He hits my taste bud sweet spot, the perfect salt and sweet combo; the combination of description, commentary and action that makes a story perfectly readable.
Although technically this is number four in the Markhat series when considered in order of publication, Tuttle often recommends starting here. It is more book-like (the first are short stories and novellas) and contains more solid world-building and character background, so if you prefer the feel of a longer story to introduce yourself to Markhat, by all means, start here.
I highly recommend the series.