First, a confession. Fantasy has never been my thing. It’s not that I dislike the genre, it’s just that I rarely find works that appeal to my personal taste. I much prefer the high tech action and greasy spaceships of science fiction. But even so, great works of fantasy do capture my attention from time to time.
Enter Faerie Rising by A. E. Lowan.
This book fell into my reading queue through a personal recommendation. One of my friends, also a sci-fi lover, had met the authors at a literary convention. Authors, plural, as A. E. Lowan is actually a trio of writers (more on that later). They left a great impression on my friend, both socially and professionally. He purchased Faerie Rising: The First Book of Binding and posted a stellar review shortly after. I trust his opinion on such matters, so I bought the book as well.
Wow. Now this is some fantasy that I can get behind.
But before I delve into my reaction, a brief intro. Winter is the primary protagonist. She is a healer from a prominent family of wizards who have become pariahs. The story takes place in Seahaven, Washington where magical rifts have begun to unleash goblins (fae) into the Earth realm. Winter is thrust into the conflict, which is straining existing tensions between factions, a political powder keg that includes vampires and shapeshifters. Without giving too much away, let’s just say that a fuse has been lit and Winter is forced to chase the flame.
The first chapter launches you into the bloody aftermath of a battle between vampires and shapeshifters. The action spills into Winter’s shop, where she is compelled to patch up some injured friends. Tensions rise, both violently and sexually, and the story springboards as a result. When the chapter ended, the authors had my full attention.
Winter is a delightfully flawed and relatable character. She’s the reluctant hero-type with an assumed frailty, untapped power, and an inherent desire to help those in need, regardless of their loyalties. She reminded me a lot of Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There is a large cast of characters surrounding Winter (her apprentice Jessie being a personal favorite), all of which receive fully fleshed out personas. None of them feel needless, as their interwoven arcs all contribute to the mounting war.
Another thing I would like to highlight is the authors’ seamless blending of voice. Author teams are fairly common, but truly effective ones are quite rare. All too often, the tone will shift from one chapter to another as one author picks up where the other left off. Two writers are hard enough, but three? I fully expected some overlap of style, but I couldn’t tell who wrote what. If I hadn’t known that Lowan was a team beforehand, I never would have guessed. It’s a testament to how well these ladies work together.
Needless to say, I highly recommend Faerie Rising. Not because it’s a great fantasy story, but because it’s a great story all around. This is a gritty tale that any reader can pick up and enjoy. The only disclaimer I would add is that the book does not shy away from gory action and saucy language. That’s a huge plus in my opinion because I admire authors who refuse to pull their punches in order to tell the story how it needs to be told. I, for one, plan to take my black eye into the next book.