Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Marie Brennan: Midnight Never Come (2008)

The Elizabethan age was obsessed by Faery, something most famously seen in several Shakespeare plays (A Midsummer Night's Dream, the spirits in the Tempest, the Queen Mab speech from Romeo and Juliet, and the pretend fairies in The  Merry Wives of Windsor being just some of the best known examples), but most developed in Spenser's enormous allegory The Faery  Queen, which parallels Elizabeth with the queen of the Fae herself.

Folklore graduate student Marie Brennan has taken this thought and put together a story  of a connection of a different kind between the two queens, a pact which guarantees the security of the English realm and its fae reflection. But it is not a treaty without cost, and the queen's spymaster Francis Walsinghamn has begun to suspect that tere is an unknown player in the game with direct access to Elizabeth. He chooses one of his agents, William Deven, to investigate, knowing that the young man is already more involved than he realises: Deven has been courting Anne Marston, waiting lady to the Countess of Warwick, and known to Walsingham as a likely agent of this unknown power. And indeed Anne is a  glamour put on by Lune, a lady of the Fae Onyx court below London, to appear human so she can act as a spy for Invidiana, the Onyx Queen (the name meaning "hateful", as opposed to Elizabeth's allegorical name Gloriana, "glorious").

Atmospheric, interesting and with good characters, Midnight Never Come is well worth a read. I don't normally like books based on role playing game scenarios (I probably wouldn't have read it if I'd realised it was before borrowing it from the local library). It's biggest problem for me was the title, which comes from a play by Marlowe and which in context gives away important aspects of the ending. My rating - 7/10.

Edition: Orbit, 2008
Review number:  1409

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