Saturday, February 4, 2012

Midnight Never Come by Marie Brennan

The dreamy title of Midnight Never Come, the first of Marie Brennan's Onyx Court series really sets the tone for the sort of book it is. The premise of this series is that the world of the fae exists alongside our own, only underground. The setting is the ancient city of London during the height of Queen Elizabeth I's reign, in the days when Spenser wrote The Faerie Queene in homage to his monarch, and when Elizabeth herself was referred to as Gloriana.

An imprisoned young Elizabeth is visited by the faery Invidiana, and makes a deal with her, the deal is mutually beneficial and both people, mortal princess and faerie queen lead their subjects in what is perceived as a golden reign.

The story takes place 30 years after the deal and concerns the efforts of a determined young fae spy in Lady Lune and an ambitious young courtier; a member of Elizabeth's Gentleman Pensioner honour guard; Michael Deven.

It is part spy story, part urban fantasy, part historical fiction and part Romeo and Juliet love story. Marie Brennan obviously did extensive research for this, and put her academic background as an archaeologist and anthropologist to use. I wonder if she studied folklore as well, because she had a good deal of knowledge about the various fae races of England at a time when belief among the populace in these mythological creatures was quite high. She used this very well and I took to the brownie sisters; the Goodmeade's, who ran the Angel tavern in the Islington area of London. There were also elements of London's history; Father Thames (also dealt with in Ben Aaronovitch's excellent Folly series) and the rebel leader Jack Cade, as well as the execution of Mary Stewart, better known as Mary Queen of Scots.

As Lune and Michael's relationship progresses and they dig deeper into the mystery that surrounds Elizabeth and Invidiana they found what they are doing necessary to ensure the continued existence and prosperity of both the kingdom of Britain and the Onyx Court, the fae that live under Britain.

Marie Brennan never actually intended to write a sequel, she felt the research she had to do for Midnight Never Come was so extensive and exhausting that she was crazy to attempt it in the first place, let alone do it all over again for a different era, but she has written 3 sequels to Midnight Never Come and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel; In Ashes Lie, which is set in 17th century London about the time of the Great Fire of 1666.

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