New York jeweller Garet James has her fair share of problems: money, an elderly father, a struggling business. One day she comes across an antiques shop she’d never noticed before. The owner possesses an old silver box that’s been sealed shut. Would she help an old man and open it, perhaps? She does…and that night strange things begin to happen. It’s as if her world – our world – has shifted slightly, revealing another, parallel place that co-exists without our knowledge: the world of the Fey…
Garet learns that one of her ancestors was ‘the Watchtower’: an immortal chosen to stand guard over the human and the fey worlds – a role that she has, it seems, inherited from her mother. But the equilibrium between these two existences is under threat. The 16th-century magician and necromancer Dr John Dee has returned, the box has been opened and the demons of Despair and Discord released. In a race against time and impending apocalypse, it is Garet who must find Dee… and close the box.
I desperately wanted to like this more than I did. I love dark urban fantasies, especially where vampires are involved, but I found I wanted this to be darker and edgier than it was.
That’s not to say it’s not good – it is good. There’s a fascinating blend of fact and fiction, with real historical figures borrowed from their own times to lend credence to those from folklore and legend. And the characters are pretty solidly written too. I really liked Garet – she’s fallible and real – but there was something missing for me. She just didn’t come across as a take-the-reigns kind of girl and I wanted her to be more forceful.
Garet’s training also seemed to happen very quickly with not much happening as a result of it, which is a shame, because I felt it was a trick missed. Perhaps (and I can only hope I’m right) her newfound skills will come into play a bit more in the sequel.
Overall, Black Swan Rising is a nice bit of escapism and if you like urban fantasy, this could be just the ticket for you. There’s certainly enough to keep one entertained and maybe just enough to hook you for the second installment.
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