Lightbreaker by Mark Teppo

LightBreaker: The First Book of the Codex of Souls
Mark Teppo
Night Shade Books, 2008
342 pages

Most of the time I never get to meet in person the authors of books I review. So it was kinda cool when Mark Teppo, who recently published his first novel, came up to me at an event we were both at and handed me a copy of Lightbreaker. (Okay, scratch that–it was really cool.) It just so happened that said novel is of one of my absolute favorite genres–urban fantasy.

Markham, the main character, is intoduced to the reader as he is in hot pursuit–of a deer. A glowing deer. With a fugitive human soul in it. Headed straight for Seattle. No good can come of this, right? But it gets better–the soul can leap into human bodies, and only Markham’s magical senses and spirit guides can help him keep from losing his quarry in the metropolitan area. To complicate matters further, the soul won’t be going quietly, and before Markham can achieve his goal, here come the police, who are wholly ignorant of this whole metaphysical reality–or are they? There’s a lot going on, and that’s just in the first two chapters.

I’ll be honest and say that the next hundred or so pages were somewhat slow. But after that things picked up again, and I found it to be an excellent read. Teppo does a good job of worldbuilding, though I might have like a little more expository background writing to give some context to the political intrigue. However, I bet the next book will have more details to that end; as it was, there was enough to keep me immersed in the story in this one. And the ending was both satisfying, while also leaving plenty of room for returns to this world, which I eagerly await.

And guess what? No werewolves, or vampires (sparkly or otherwise)! Instead, Teppo’s story is based on Western occultism, particularly Qabalah and other forms of ceremonial magic. To be sure, there’s a lot of the fantasy element to it–souls shoving each other out of bodies with visible results, qlipothic spirits zapping rival mages–but the author knows his stuff as far as basic western magical theory goes. (Even if he does say that he’s concerned that some will say he didn’t research enough.) Plus–Portland’s in there! Yay!

Overall, I would most definitely recommend this author to my readers, and he’s going on my short list of Authors Whose New Books Get Preordered at Powell’s.

Five pawprints out of five.

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