While I’ve enjoyed urban fantasy tales like Heartstrikers, Dresden Files and Kate Daniels, there is a very different flavour to this story which did not entirely appeal to me. It felt traditional with overtones of Alice in Wonderland as a young human girl named Ruth was kidnapped into the fey lands by a jealous dwarf-like creature. The jealousy was roused from the fact that for many decades the fey creatures have been increasingly deprived of children with the level of toxicity in the land caused by humans. Many of these creatures, including the Faeries, have reached a level of desperation in their inability to bear sufficient offsprings. In such desperation, a Faerie Queen sought to give birth to a half-breed of human descent, the very race which was destroying them. Harld, the Prince of Arkim, was recognised by his father as the heir to fulfil his wife’s dying wish, but eventually, the scorn from the Faeries had sent him into seclusion. Fate brought Ruth’s and Harld’s paths together and the story spun into a long-drawn narrative of the girl trying to find her purpose in the magical lands after having taken a bite of a very rare and special goblin fruit that granted her magic. In the meantime, Harld, who was also a highly adept shapeshifter, tried to keep her safe while avoiding a prophecy in his name.
The couple of things that this book had going for it was that the plot was satisfactory and the prose was good, and at times had a lilting and lyrical quality. The pacing was, however, patchy with a lot of meandering parts of very long conversations that seemed to keep going around in circles. There also seemed to be a preference for really extensive paragraphs which was difficult to follow especially when it was part of a dialogue. With only two main points-of-view told in the third person, the switching between Ruth and Harld could have been done better in my opinion. Sometimes I didn’t even realise that the perspective has changed from one to the other. This made the reading experience a bit jarring.
Character development was just fair with two main characters. Even though I understood that Ruth was forced to grow up given her circumstances, there were many times when I felt that her thoughts and action were way too mature and then at times, she acted like the young girl she was supposed to be. I would have liked more backstory to Harld. His lot in life was truly tragic and I did feel for him especially towards the end of the book where certain revelations made it even more so.
The story had some good messages. That humanity will ever continue to war against one another and destroy the land rang true, and that one should never give up on hope and merely give in to supposed fated inevitability. The fey creatures were also well portrayed indicating the author’s knowledge of the lore. In summary, this was a fairly good story that could have been more polished to better engage the reader.