Mercedes Lackey,
Jinx High
(Tor, 1991; reissued 2006)

A lot of weird things have been happening to the student body of Jenks High School -- enough to earn the school the nickname Jinx High. On the night Deke Kestrel is out joyriding with his girl Fay and two of their friends, Fay crashes her car and Deke would swear that -- for just a moment -- Fay vanished from the driver's seat. But she couldn't have, right?

Larry Kestrel's first thought after being notified of the accident was relief that Deke was OK. When Larry picks his son up at the hospital, he is unnerved when his long-unused psychic abilities sense that something old and predatory is after the teen. His psychic skills rusty and his witch wife away, Larry is forced to call in the big guns, psychic investigator, practicing witch and magical Guardian -- and romance writer -- Diana Tregarde. Serendipity, and an excuse, presents itself when Deke's English teacher decides to do a writer-in-residence program.

Monica Carlin, a new student to Jenks High, sees the student body from an outsider's viewpoint. She has noticed that student queen Fay Harper seems to get whatever she wants, including Deke, to whom Monica is attracted. But there's also Alan, Deke's friend, and he's showing a lot of interest in Monica. Monica's one ambition is to be an author, so when Ms. Tregarde shows up to teach her English classes, she's delighted. But the weird things that start happening shortly after Ms. Tregarde's arrival are not in the least delightful.

This final installment of Mercedes Lackey's Diana Tregarde series is the most light-hearted, if "light-hearted" can be used to describe books issued as dark fantasy. The teenage characters are the main focus of the story, with Diana really more a background character in her own book. The characterization of the teenagers is very good, though some of the slang is a bit dated, and the reader must remember that this book was originally published in 1991. Characterization is, in fact, a strength of Lackey's and it is easy enough to relate to Deke and Monica as well as Deke's father and Di Tregarde herself (who always reminds me a bit of my favorite aunt).

The story rips right along without taking a breath, but rather than seeming relentless, the fast pace is more likely to mean staying up past bedtime.

The reissue of the Diana Tregarde series in trade paperback is most welcome. The books have darker, edgier cover art -- the old cover of Jinx High was rather bright considering the dark tone of the story within -- and the trade size is easier to hold and read.

Previous knowledge of the series is not necessary to follow and enjoy the story. Alas, even though the ending indicates that there might have been a sequel contemplated, Lackey has stated that she will write no more Diana Tregarde books.

by Laurie Thayer
13 January 2007

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