I'm not usually a reader of sword-and-sorcery fantasy. Maybe I don't have the D&D gene, or perhaps I just miss the internal consistency of reality-based fiction. But Wen Spencer's Tinker is an exception.
Start with the accidental translation of a chunk of American city into a parallel universe. For 20-plus years, part of Pittsburgh has been rotating for 29 days out of every 30 into Elfhome, where passenger pigeons exist side-by-side with leg-chomping wargs and flesh-eating willows.
Add in the Elfin Interdimensional Agency, charged with ensuring that only adult residents of Pittsburgh and their dependents will stay in the city as it returns to Elfhome. Toss in two minors, Tinker and Oilcan (not their real names, of course), orphans who have held on to their home despite the death of their grandfather. Stir in a soupçon of elven politics, and a dash of nasty orc-ish oni villains, and the stew is bubbling.
Did I say Tinker is a girl, a genius who owns a scrapyard? Anyone with that much cold iron is a force to reckon with in fairyland. And Tinker has the opportunity to save the life of an elven lord fleeing a pack of wargs when he runs into her scrapyard. Tinker teeters from rescue to rescue, managing to set the entire Elfhome world on its ear as she goes.
Tinker is consistently delightful, and internally consistent as well—you won't learn anything special from this book, but it is a lot of fun.
If Pittsburgh-on-Elfhome seems familiar, it has played a part in previous novels by Spencer, the Ukiah Oregon series that began with Alien Taste.
Jane Chord: Wargs out.