AUTHOR: Sarah Monette
First, an admission. I don't read fantasy as a rule. I have read some. Urban fantasies mostly. This isn't an urban fantasy. And I read it only because I read the author's LiveJournal and I like to read the books of authors I get to know online. And I've been sitting on this book for a week since finishing it, trying to digest it and figure out what to say about it.
See, because I don't read much fantasy, I'm not up on all the tropes of the genre. And that affects how I want to describe what I experienced reading it. I can say this: I devoured this book. And it's sequel, and I'm already reading book 3 of what appears to be a 4-part series.
Plot-wise, there's Felix Harrowgate, a disciple from a young age of an evil wizard. Felix has left his gutter life past behind, becoming a powerful and noble wizard of the Mirador in the city of Melusine. But his past won't let him escape, and Malkar, the evil wizard, uses Felix's magic to destroy the Virtu, the huge crystal that channels the magic of the Mirador's wizards. Felix, driven mad by the act, is the one blamed for the destruction.
Then there's Mildmay the Fox, a former kept-thief and assassin now making his living as a cat burglar. And things are not going well. But they get far worse when a crippled wizard's summoning spell snares Mildmay instead of its intended target: Felix.
And here's where I figure some fantasy tropes kick in big time. Felix and Mildmay's lives intersect (and I figured out how, but that might have been standard fantasy fare for all I know) as the two of them, mad Felix and pragmatic Mildmay, wind up on a quest that could doom them both.
I don't want to give anything away. I'm not sure how to review the second book without revealing too much of this one. Suffice it to say Melusine has magic, violence, sensual sex scenes, lush prose, and well drawn characters. I grew quite fond of Felix, but I fell in love with Mildmay. And I've been very happy to spend time in their company.