Story Rating: 4 stars
Audio Rating: 4.25 stars
Narrator: Joel Leslie
Length: 2 hours, 32 minutes
A History of Trouble is a delightful and aptly titled collection of shorts stories in the Beacon Hill Sorcerer series looking into the lives of Angel Salvatore and his found family, as well as a vignette featuring his ancestor, Ignacio, an elementalist bonded to a vampire during the height of the Blood Wars. The collection includes: Red Wine and Blood, A History of Trouble, A Dragon in the City and Fae’s Gold.
In Red Wine, we immediately meet lone vampire, Ashwin Metcalfe, as he is caught in an unexpected confrontation with several Melbourne practitioners. It’s a quick glimpse into the violent, ugly war that took countless lives and swept many innocent people up in its wake, with this impromptu skirmish brought to a swift, brutal conclusion by Ignacio Salvatore, literally riding in upon his black steed to rescue his beloved. The vignette offers an interesting perspective at just how uniquely fast Angel and Simeon’s mate bond developed.
In History, the mystery of Angel’s case involving a resurrected mammoth is revealed in all its 20-foot glory. What should have been a relatively easy fix after several foolish graduate school sorcerers decide to resurrect a mammoth, turns into a rampaging, car-destroying, newsworthy event when the necromancer who carries Trouble around with him is on the scene.
In Dragon, which is written in Eroch’s POV, the reader learns more about the wee beastie—where he came from, why he remained after he was freed from the geas, and the true nature of his bond with Angel. Eroch is at his adorable best, and doesn’t get into too much trouble—just a little pigeon roasting, a run-in with animal control, and “feeding younglings” while out with his favorite water mage.
In Fae’s Gold, Daniel’s idea to have Ruairi exchange some of his gold for modern currency and spend more time out in the world swiftly escalates into Angel-levels of trouble from the moment the bank manager lays eyes on Ruairi and his bag of gold. Although Daniel beats himself up about the mishap, he still gets to spend time with and learn more about the kind-hearted, loyal protector who has quickly come to feel like safety and home to the soul-sore, vulnerable young mage.
Overall, all the stories are enjoyable and, for the most part, work well together. The only one that feels somewhat out of place to me is Red Wine and not because of its brevity. Since I have more of a history with the characters in the other stories, there is a greater connection there; moreover, each story offers additional insight into the characters and/or set-up for something else. While Ignacio is present in the series, I didn’t receive my understanding of him and/or a hint of more in Red Wine, something the other shorts did. This lack of connective tissue makes it seem a bit tacked on. The fact that it takes place during the reign of the oft-mentioned matriarch, Astoria Salvatore—the fire mage who ended the Melbourne line, whose journal Angel gave Isaac for Christmas, who Angel takes after in looks and bearing, etc.—and who is referred to in the story as well, made me feel like a quick scene with Astoria in it to provide a connection to a character with a more impactful presence in the series is a missed opportunity and a way to add cohesion to the story so that it fit better with the others.
As for Joel Leslie’s narration, I’ve always thought he voiced Angel perfectly and his smooth and calm Simeon, world-weary, smoker’s-lung O’Malley, and highbrow, take no BS Milly are great as well. But with there being a lot more Ruairi in A History of Trouble than in previous books, he and Simeon, the two characters with more pronounced Irish accents, sounded somewhat the same to me as Fae’s Gold progressed. Additionally, there is still disparity regarding the pronunciation of Ruairi, so sometimes when (if?) they are calling him “Rory,” I can’t actually tell since even the pronunciation of Ruairi in History is different than in book 3 of of the series that came out last month. That being said, A History of Trouble, an entertaining collection of stories that add depth to the Beacon Hill Sorcerer’s world, combined with Leslie’s narration, which seems to always bring an extra spark to the BHS world, makes this an audiobook fans of the series will probably enjoy.