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15 November 2012

published softcover, Booktrope, 2011. Cover art by author.

This came flapping into my mailbox unexpectedly and I fell on it with cries of delight.  It seems incredible that I’ve known the author for more than 20 years, (and liked her work for just as long) but when I checked, yes, that’s so. Chico’s main character is a Portuguese sea captain named Da Silva, and he has some great adventures. I’ve been buying chapbooks on those for years, however I was pleased to see that this book is a full-length story.

The story expands several themes that have been glimpsed in shorter works, Da Silva’s estrangement from his father, the problems of his second-mate, Harris, the bond between the captain and his son, Jose, his love for Emilia, his wife, and, of course, Da Silva’s ability to see ghosts ever since a demon took out one of the captain’s eyes. The story begins with a separate flash in which a father and daughter are discussing revenge on an enemy. This is tied up very nicely further on, although in the end it comes with a clever twist. Then the story jumps, first to Emilia having her portrait painted, and then to Da Silva arriving back in port to discover the father he hasn’t spoken to for thirty years, waiting for him on the dock. The book’s theme is a hunt for a grimoire, a book that is dangerous to anyone who uses it.

The story ends with an anticipated kiss, but in between that and the beginning there is a lot of excitement, mayhem, black magic, and derring-do. I’ve been buying and reading Chico’s Da Silva stories for almost two decades – and no reader does that if they aren’t worth the cash outlay. da Silva isn’t the standard character for this type of magic realism. He’s devoted to his wife, a good father and husband, a rather reluctant hero, and – two most interesting points. Da Silva is Portuguese, (about the only Portuguese character I’ve ever run into in this genre, and yes, the author does know the language and background) and the stories take place not in the usual contemporary times, or the quasi-medieval period, but on the cusp of the 1900s. When sail is giving way more and more to steam, and Da Silva’s barque is the sort of sailing ship that is being slowly phased out. Again, this is a period and background that I’ve never seen used before which makes it all the more reader-catching.

Demon Weather has sent me back to re-read all of this author’s chapbooks that I have, including those on bells and bell ringing (Chico is a farmer campanologist) and her excellent ghost tales.  And on re-reading her Tor-published book, Printer’s Devil, It also reminded me that too many people are unaware of her work, and sometime in the next few weeks when I have time I plan to do one of my “Have You Overlooked?” articles on that. I recomend Chico’s work in general, and note for those interested that Chico is on Facebook, may be found also at chicokidd.wordpress.com/ and that the next Da Silva book, The Werewolf of Lisbon, should be out shortly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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