The Autumn Castle: Europa Suite 1
(Gollancz, £17.99, 465 pages, hardback, published 17 June 2004.
Gollancz, £6.99, 463 pages, paperback, 10 March 2005.)
When she was young, Christine Starlight lost her parents in a car crash.
Now she lives in an autumnal Berlin with her lover Jude as part
an artist's commune presided over by the mysterious Immanuel Ziegler,
known as Mandy Z for short. Then a childhood friend returns into Christine's
life: May Frith, a young girl who was abducted by the faerie folk and
has since become Mayfridh, Queen of Faery. The lands of Faery and of
human kind are coinciding for a limited time so that transport between
the two is possible. Mayfridh has taken the chance to seek out her old
friend, but soon finds some aspects of human life too much to her liking.
And meanwhile Mandy Z has some quite sinister plans of his own.
Australian writer Kim Wilkins came to many people's attention with
her fourth novel, Angel of Ruin (published in the UK as Fallen
Angel), a compelling dark fantasy mostly set in 17th Century London
and featuring John Milton and his daughters as principal characters.
It was a novel with well-drawn characters, a convincing background and
above all a compelling narrative drive ... a combination that the author
has continued with this new novel. The Autumn Castle is the first
of a trilogy. However, the series would appear to be a thematically
rather than narratively linked, as this novel certainly is complete
in itself. Any story involving fairies/faeries risks tweeness, but Wilkins
ably avoids that trap. She began her career as a horror writer and this
is certainly a dark fantasy with an astringent horror aftertaste. She
also manages to make convincing a plot twist midway that on the face
of it is an outrageous coincidence. Add to that convincing characters,
a well-worked out faerie world, and you have a novel that slips down
with considerable ease.
Europa Suite 2, Giants of the Frost, is out now in Australia
and due in 2005 from Gollancz. I for one am certainly looking forward
Elsewhere in infinity plus: