An original, sharply written, highly addictive and unbelievably enjoyable urban fantasy, The Fourth Channel is the debut novel of Jen Kirchner (@JenLKirchner) and one of the best books I’ve read this year.
Kari Hunter may be the lead singer of internationally renowned rock band Vis Viva, but that’s not all she is. She’s carefully kept secret her life as a necromancer, the most powerful and rare of all magic users, and for good reason. Necromancers trade souls for pure power and are feared by everyone.
But Kari isn’t like that, and she’s gone out of her way to avoid hurting anyone. As a consequence her development as a necromancer has taken a decidedly unusual turn. Even so, sacrificing any Fourth Channel, as necromancers are known, is the goal of voodoo master Ruairí O’Bryne, who finds out Kari’s secret and makes her his target.
I can’t really go into much more detail on the plot than that without giving a lot of the good stuff away, but trust me: there are twists, turns and plenty of action on the earthly realm and the plane of the dead. The story moves at a crisp pace but without rushing, giving the reader plenty of time to enjoy the world and characters Ms. Kirchner has created.
Although I have not read much in the magic/fantasy genre, I must say the way magic is handled in The Fourth Channel is brilliant. The channel system — first channel uses healing spells, second channel telekinetic, and third channel fire-based — is elegant and sensible, as is the way Kari’s fourth-channel talents are able to manipulate the magic created by the other channels.
The characters — from Kari to her bandmates, family, voodoo masters and other magic users — are well drawn and intelligent, and the dialogue is sharp and often laugh out loud funny. Kari’s knives have to be my favorite characters. What’s that? Oh, yes, one of the things necromancers do is create indestructible knives that talk, often to suggest ways to stab people or — in the case of Kari’s knives — to beg for some TV time. When her knives get out of hand, Kari has an interesting way to punish them, too.
Everything about The Fourth Channel is as sharp as Kari’s knives, making it an immensely pleasing story to read. When I learned the author was at work on a sequel, I broke out into a huge smile. I can’t wait to read it.
For more on Ms. Kirchner and her writing, including some howlingly funny bits like posts on how everything is”Better with Predator” visit her blog (http://jenkirchner.com/). You won’t be disappointed, maybe just a little sore in the ribs.