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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Smoke and Mirrors by Mary Dublin and Anne Kendsley is A Shot in the Dark novella. A misunderstanding leads to an unexpected encounter. Not all humans are bad. This is a lesson that Sylvia learned following her escape from her village when she hit the road with her friends Jon and Cliff. Their latest ghost hunt takes an unexpected turn when a conflict between Sylvia and Jon is misinterpreted by a traveling duo. Ben is a fairy helping his human friend Lee pull off convincing séances for clients. When Ben sees Sylvia in presumed distress, he and Lee stage a rescue which turns out to be an accidental kidnapping. As Ben and Sylvia are drawn together, they find a commonality between them as the two sides join forces to face off against a dangerous threat.
The novella revolves around a humorous premise that finds Sylvia accidentally kidnapped by two men that think she’s in trouble. Sylvia has started a new beginning in her life after leaving the hostility of her village and finding a place for herself with Jon and Cliff on the road, hunting for ghosts. Mary Dublin and Anne Kendsley explore Sylvia’s life afterward which includes her relationship with Jon which has become romantic. The conflict between Sylvia and Jon sparks the misunderstanding that springs the plot forward. Dublin and Kendsley weave humor through the two sides as Sylvia is in the middle between these two pairings that each think they’re helping her. Ben and Lee have an interesting dynamic as Ben helps Lee con people through séances while also having a camaraderie between them that their friendship is built upon.
The story has a magical element to it as Ben and Sylvia are fairies, which pushes the story into a commentary on their connection to humans. The two haven’t always had positive experiences when dealing with humans, but each has people in their lives that have given positive reinforcement to humans. The story explores both of their experiences, hers with Jon and Cliff, and his with Lee, which gives an emotional core to the story as they discuss their circumstances. Smoke and Mirrors is a delightful novella that furthers the world of A Shot in the Dark while also supplying an enchanting new adventure for new readers, one that is magical, full of heart, and humorous.