Max swayed, wondering if Axon had a syring in the car. Was he becoming addicted?
Author: Emma Newman
Something is wrong in Aquae Sulis, Bath’s secret mirror city.
The new season is starting and the Master of Ceremonies is missing. Max, an Arbiter of the Split Worlds Treaty, is assigned with the task of finding him with no one to help but a dislocated soul and a mad sorcerer.
There is a witness but his memories have been bound by magical chains only the enemy can break. A rebellious woman trying to escape her family may prove to be the ally Max needs.
But can she be trusted? And why does she want to give up eternal youth and the life of privilege she’s been born into?
Bluestocking’s Learned Opinion: I saw this book as I was wandering the fantasy section in Barnes and Noble. I liked the premise; so I bought it. I really enjoyed entering the world of Faeries. Most of the fantasy that I read is of the witch/wizard variety. The only thing I know about faeries is that they don’t like iron.
The premise of Ms. Newman’s world is that those who are “Fae touched” live in the Nether. It is a world that is not where the Fae lords dwell, but not where mortals live. It is a land where sun and moon do not exist. It is an ageless world. The Fae touched live in houses that are anchored to the mortal world. Fae touched children spend enough time in the mortal world to reach adulthood. Once girls come of age (think Victorian come of age), they move back into the Nether and never age. Once boys come of age, they do world travel for a few years before coming back to the Nether. When both girls and boy come of age, they can ask their Patroons for a boon. Typically, children ask for what their parents tell them.
The Fae touched are part of families whose patron’s are the Fae lords. The Fae lords all have flower names i.e. Lord Poppy, Lord Iris, Lady Rose, etc. The Fae lords are a wee bit mercurial.
The main character of this story is Catherine Rhoeas-Papaver. In case you were wondering a papaver rhoeas is the scientific name for a red poppy. As you can imagine, Lord Poppy is Catherine’s family’s Patron. The family’s symbol is the red poppy. Anyway when Cathy comes of age, she asks her patroon to be able to attend a university in the mortal world. She was granted this request because these sort of requests must be granted; however, she royally pissed off her patroon as well as her family. Once Catherine gets to college (she’s also sent with two minders), she pays for a charm so that her family couldn’t track her; then she ran away. Eventually Lord Poppy finds Cathy; but he stays mum on how he accomplishes this. He seems to have taken quite the fancy to her because she is different from the rest of Society. He grants her three wishes. If you weren’t aware, wishes from the Fae are fraught with a great deal of peril.
Cathy’s story is interspersed with the whole mystery of the Master of Ceremonies being missing. As it turns out the Master of Ceremonies is her uncle, and he’s probably the only person in her world who actually likes and appreciates her for being herself. Cathy does end up being part of solving what happened to him, and she does it while trying to sort of follow the society rules. Unfortunately, she doesn’t get the credit for it. There’s a subplot. Catherine’s parents have decided to marry her off to William Reticulata-Iris (who is rather fond of the mortal world too). It is an excellent match and will bring advantages to both families. It is a strange match because Cathy is not considered to be pretty, and in the Nether beauty is everything. Of course, neither Cathy or William really wants the marriage.
Anyway, it is quite clear from the amount of characters introduced that this will probably be a really sizable series. I do like the fact that there are several types of “powers” in this book for example Fae, sorcerers, and Elements. I can tell that there is about to be a major clash between the parties. Anytime you have so many stagnant systems, it is almost inevitable that someone is going to make a power play.
The book is part Downton Abbey, part Tudor, and part Harry Potter. It is definitely not a children’s book. For all the advantages that come with living in the Nether world, the Fae-touched live on the knife’s edge of destruction. This is definitely once fantasy world that although I like reading about, I would never want to live in it. The people of the Nether are very much slaves. Immortality doesn’t make up for having no say so over one’s life.
I read this book very quickly; then I went and bought the second the book the very next day. I finished that book in an evening. There is a third book coming out in October and it’s killing me.