January, 29 2015
This installment of heroine Aithera’s mystical journey follows the gifted girl now as a grown woman. Having mastered the gifts that she was born with, Aithera is in a position to help others. Travelling the valley and surrounded by strange storms and forces, she comes across an old man, whose memory seems to falter but who calls himself Devon. The pair are soon joined by another waif, a young girl called Jira who seems to be developing gifts of her own, and who quickly becomes like a sister to Aithera. As these mysterious three journey to discover the missing pieces of the old man’s (strangely powerful) amulet, their backstories become increasingly intertwined…
The prologue does a nice job of bringing Aithera’s history back to us, and from this point on, images and phrases of the prequel recur and orient the reader, especially as Aithera’s new companions start to appear more connected to the Kilbray estate than they first seemed. The narrative moves quickly and flits between dialogue, swathes of action, exposition, and visions. To keep the reader clearly anchored through all these elements and modes of writing is really commendable.
Occasionally, the journeying desciptions and the magic sequences stretch a little too long and are so vague and mysterious that they become difficult to visualize. Aithera’s world is made up of forest, mountain, cave, clearing, but it’s difficult to image the landscape as a whole. But these vaguer episodes are broken by nice, clear images that become landmarks in the prose, like this resonant description of the group’s first cautious observance of a dragon – “Devon whispers softly, “Many creatures of the night now seem to go by day,” as he watches the dark shape travel from sight.” This is a lovely line, creating both an intimate foreground and a compelling horizon for the reader to imagine.
And between these dramatic episodes, the tension breaks and the authors provide scenes of contentment and humor. In one such scene, Jira, Aithera, and Devon prepare a meal for themselves and laugh over the domestic duties. Their relationships develop quickly and are compelling in themselves and their dialogue makes these relationships clear.
In the first of the Demesne books, I found changes in tone to be a little off-putting; here, the switches between colloquial and archaic language seem to be made more consciously. The old man Devon has a noticeably more ancient tone, and the girls note this. The unpredictable tone becomes part of the story’s intrigue rather than a frustrating discrepancy.
Overall, the rising action of the plot is both satisfying and unfinished – Jira’s and Devon’s identities are revealed, the gang is revisited by a figure from the past, and Devon’s transformation reaches its climax, but questions remain, creating curiosity for the next installment…
Thank you Georgina Parfitt for your glowing review and insights.
Do you agree with Georgina Parfitt? Let us know.