This was a hard book to finish, and I’m not sure why I insisted on completing it as I really have no problem abandoning books halfway through. I did persevere though, and I think I’m glad I did? I ended up liking the book more then I thought I was going to, but I’m not sure if it was worth the slog. The book was introduced to me on Abigail Nussbaum’s blog Asking the Wrong Questions. I’ve found quite few books I’ve enjoyed through her Reading Roundups, but it was the cover art that drew me into this one. I mean, look at that intricate thing. It’s a stunning cover, and it’s even more remarkable when you have the book in your hands. So this book goes into my Cover Art slot.
I started this book in March and didn’t finish it until the end of June. For me, that’s a long time to be reading a book, and it wasn’t a situation where I put it down for months and then picked it back up again and finished it quickly (like what will probably happen with the latest Expanse novel, which I have currently abandoned). I would read a passage and then put it down, and then pick it up again the next day and try to get through another passage. It was the very definition of a slog. I’m not sure why exactly, this kind of retelling of Heart of Darkness with missionaries in fairyland seems like it is right up my alley but the result wasn’t very enjoyable to get through.
Catherine Helstone goes to fairyland in search of her brother, who is a missionary there to convert the fae to Christianity. She is led to the castle where her brother is based, Gethsemane, but finds him out. The castle has secrets of it’s own, and Catherine spends time exploring those and the secrets of the three fae inhabitants of the castle. When her brother returns, there are more secrets (gothic novel, see) to uncover in their own relationship, and the Queen might have reasons of her own for bringing them both to Fairyland.
There are secrets within secrets and the symbolism is hardly subtle. There are a lot of discussions on faith, Christian specific faith to be exact, and what faith means to both humans and fae. The mythology of the book, despite being about fairyland, is heavily tied up with Christian mythology so take that into account before reading. Like I said, I ended up liking the book more then I thought I would, but eh.