My rating: 4 of 5 stars
There are a few fundamental constants about my reading tastes. One of those is that any book with a decent treatment of the Sidhe is guaranteed to appeal to me. The other is that any book by C.E. Murphy is guaranteed to do the same. Combine these, and the result is a tasty little urban fantasy that pretty much has “read this, Anna” written all over it.
Lara Jansen has a strange gift: she can always, always tell when someone is lying. Compared to many high-powered, badassed urban fantasy heroines this days, this may not seem like much–and neither does Lara’s quiet profession of tailor, when you put her up against all the bounty hunters and detectives and assassins and whatnot that populate the genre. But her ability proves to be of critical importance when the Seelie prince Dafydd seeks her help in clearing him of a charge of murder.
And, unsurprisingly given that this is in fact a C.E. Murphy novel with the Sidhe in it, I enjoyed the hell out of this. It’s not a hundred percent perfect; the relationship between Lara and Dafydd started closing in on True Love a bit fast for my tastes, for example. That however is a fairly small quibble against all the things I liked about the story.
One, the heroine is indeed refreshingly not a high-powered badass at combat, either magical or physical. Her truthseeking gift has interesting character connotations for her; I liked that it made her shy away from reading fiction because it parses as “false” to her (even though, as a voracious reader, I have a hard time understanding people who don’t like to read for pleasure!), and I liked even more that it let her ramp up very quickly to accepting the truth of the existence of the Sidhe, thereby neatly sidestepping the whole traditional OMG MAGIC IS REAL?! reaction that also inundates the genre.
Two, I also like Dafydd as a hero, and I find it fun that his cover identify in the human world when the story starts is that of a TV weatherman. His relationship with the brother he’s accused of murdering is well drawn, as are his reactions as the consequences of his enlisting Lara’s aid start mounting.
To wit, three, there are indeed good strong consequences to Lara’s discovering Faerie. I particularly liked that the old-school difference in flow of time between Faerie and the human realm is used here, to very good effect and with distinct consequences for the major characters.
Given that this is a duology, the story is not resolved as of the end of this book, so be prepared for that if you go in. But fortunately, Book 2 is out later this year! And I will, of course, be reading it. For this one, four stars.