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?
First in the series, sets everything up but leaves just enough untied for me to wonder what happens next. It was set on the premise that there is a magic underworld, mirrored on the normal world - much like in The Name of the Blade series by the way. There were gargoyles, fairies, curses, fancy parties and all that. The fairies of this world were proper Fae, which I loved. It gave it a darker undertone and a dangerous threat.
There were a lot of characters at play: Max is one of the law-keepers and attempting to find the reason for the Master's disappearance; Sam is a Mundane caught in the middle; Will is part of another prominent family trying to keep their power. Most of all, I adored Cathy. By getting to know her as she gets kidnapped back into the Nether, we see the old-fashioned underworld for what it is: magical, yes, but so unfair. It was like it was stuck in the Victorian period, where women like Cathy were married off to broker contracts, where they had no power, tied into corsets and mind-numbing social functions. I completely empathised with Cathy, to say the least.
I liked the general set up but it was surprisingly complicated, with several story lines to follow, not to mention an entire world's history and politics to learn. Good story but very long-winded and complex.
Published 5th March 2013 by Angry Robot. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.