Sometimes, when I read a review of a book that sounds good, I just go to the catalog and put a hold on it (usually, it’s still on order.) Then it pops up in my box and I have no idea what it’s about or why I put it on hold. This was one of those. And I was right – it is a good book.
Melusine by Sarah Monette It’s never a good sign when your main character is raped and his magical power used to bring down the city in the first chapter of a book. You just know that things are going to go downhill from there. And it does, as court magician Felix Harrowgate descends into madness, clinging to the hope of a man in a dream who told Felix he could help him. The narrative alternates between Felix’s court speech and the colorful slang of Mildmay, a cat thief from the ghetto. Mildmay tells us a story in the preface of why magicians can’t be trusted. But when he takes on a job for a beautiful woman, he finds himself drawn into places he knows he doesn’t want to be. As the city of Melusine falls apart, Felix and Mildmay are thrown together and find themselves traveling towards Felix’s dream. The gutter language, violence, rape, and disturbing depiction of madness make this a book best for adults, and I never quite figured out their time system, using septads. However, the magic is straightforward and the world, with very few non-human species, is easy to understand. The world described is vivid, the characters believable and sympathetic, the plot compelling. This is Monette’s first book; if you like good fantasy, read it now and keep an eye out for her future books.