So I started reading this book because I felt I had to – I’m part of the planning committee of the Geneva Writers Conference, and the author is coming to join us as a speaker. I figured, If I’m a fantasy novelist and I want her to come and speak, I should probably read what she wrote. So I went into reading this book with zero expectations.
I have to say, I came out completely surprised and amazing. First of all, the very idea of Victorian Missionaries going to the land of the Fae to try and convert them to Christianity is ingenious. Diabolical, even. Next, I love the way it was written. The world building was so well done – both the land of Fae, where the book takes place, but also Victorian England, the home of our protagonists. You can feel them both coming off the pages of the book, and the writing really is convincingly gothic. This isn’t my usual style, but in this case, exceptionally well done. It’s an unexpected mix of bible quotes, lyrical poetry and gothic horror and romance, all set up in an intricately woven fantasy world. At times the pacing is slow, but once it picks up in the middle you won’t be able to keep up, and the twists and turns are fascinating, shocking, and more than a little disturbing. All of this without falling into the usual traps and tropes of fantasy writing.
The author of this book is the Winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Newcomer and the John W Campbell Award, and I can see why. You may not love this book or want to re-read it over and over, but you will never forget it.
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