April 12th, 2013


Grail of the Summer Stars, by Freda Warrington

Review copy provided by Tor.

There is a line between finely wrought and overwrought, between vivid and melodramatic, and Freda Warrington continues to walk that line as exactly as possible. This series is full of "Aetherial" beings--the very few human characters turn out to be Very Special Humans--and if that gives you hives, walk away now, because that's the kind of book this is. There are revelations of secret identities, secret relatives, and incest. There are artists on the border of sanity. There are literal and figurative triptychs all over the place. Gold leaf, for reals literal gold leaf, makes its appearance. All the colors are intensely saturated. It's the kind of rich that means "let's split one, it's too rich for me to eat the whole thing."

Did you read Melanie Rawn's Sunrunner books as a kid? Where everything--everything--was jewel-toned? Well then. Like that. Only with a more urban/portal fantasy vibe...except that it's not a whole complete other world, it's an entangled other world, like the Elfland of a previous title of hers. (No actual elves were harmed in the writing of these books. A few pieces of Nordic mythology were stretched pretty far, though.) Sometimes you want a book in which All The Feels Are Felt, and this is one of those books. For heaven's sake don't call it a guilty pleasure. Have a pleasure. Don't feel guilty about it.

In this one there is a jewelry museum in which I would rather spend time than the otherland, but it grounds the book and its main character, Stevie. Also grounding Stevie is her friend Fin, who seems very down-to-earth and practical and then turns out to continue to be down-to-earth and practical in the face of Great Weirdness. I love Fin. Fin is the best. If there was more Fin, I might love this book instead of just liking it and considering it a fun read when you're in the mood for that sort of thing. On the other hand, there is Fin at all, so I can't really complain.