Science fiction and fantasy
The Autumn Castle
by Kim Wilkins
A mark on her finger reminds Christine of a childhood friend who disappeared in mysterious circumstances. She finds herself connected to faeryland through this friend, whilst the two worlds are briefly aligned and passage between them is possible. This faeryland is an otherworld where magic exists and Christine can be free of her crippling pain.
Queen Mayfridh is eager to visit Berlin, and whilst there she becomes drawn to Jude, Christine's artistic lover. Unfortunately the artists are all resident at the house of Immanuel Zweigler. By visiting the real world, the queen is unknowingly placing herself and her entire land in serious danger.
Meanwhile the witch Hexebart is plotting escape and revenge. She has possession of the royal magic, and has been imprisoned in a well for years. Convinced that Mayfridh is responsible for the murders of the previous king and queen, the witch is prepared to use all her cunning to achieve her ends.
Mayfridh tends to come across as spoilt and decadent, and she often ignores the advice of the long-suffering Eisengrimm, her counsellor. Eisengrimm is a shape-changer who takes the form of various animals, and he has some secrets of his own. In this book most of the main characters are harbouring some sort of inner darkness or mystery.
Of all of them, Mandy Z has the most to hide. But he is a psychopathic ogre who makes an implausible villain. He is simply too evil and too irrationally motivated to provoke any sympathy. Readers are left wondering whether the good guys will figure things out in time, but since events are so weird who could blame them for not guessing? The other characters are more rounded than Mandy Z, so their love triangles and intrigues manage to sustain interest.
Everything is set against the background of an imminent move to the Winter Castle and the forgetfulness that comes with a change of season. Time is against them, so there is a sense of urgency and a good pace to the story. The Autumn Castle effectively balances an eerie otherworld atmosphere with the drab nature of humdrum urban existence. One passage towards the end of the book owes a little too much to the "Once upon a time" school of storytelling, but otherwise this is an engaging read which mixes horror, jealousy, romance and magic into an entertaining and original supernatural tale.
If you like this, try:Some Kind Of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce
A young woman returns to her family after a long absence. But can she walk back into her old life after all she has seen?
Any Other Name by Emma Newman
Cathy feels trapped by marriage, whilst her friend Sam feels unable to save his own. The second book in the Split Worlds series.
Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman
A young woman rebels against her family whilst trying to resist the will of the fae lord. The first novel in the Split Worlds series.