I actually had Book 2 in the series recommended, but I went and read Book 1 first.
First things first – I loved it. I found myself relaxing in to it. It’s a story of a mysterious coin purse, a magical ring, extra dimensional beings and, well, all sorts of good stuff.
I get the feel that it is aimed at a young adult market, and the language used is very straightforward and streamlined and there is a wonderful clarity in the descriptions. This balances out a plot that intertwines intricately between different viewpoints, time periods and even worlds.
To be honest, sometimes I got a little lost in names, but a sneak peak at the next book shows a ‘who’s who’ and I think I will be referring back to it. And I am looking forward to learning how this world works as the series unfolds as Marianne Madson doesn’t dump a swathe of information on you but teases glimpses in as you read the book.
Perhaps my favourite passage, because it is so vivid and intriguing:
An old childhood memory of her Father comes to mind.
It’s of a moment she had forgotten but now can clearly recall.
Her Father is staring at her with his own grey gold flecked eyes.
He touches her forehead with the tip of his right index finger while saying in a hypnotic tone.
“Remember to act when you find the Red coat, Rose, DON’T LET THIS OPPORTUNITY SLIP AWAY!”
It is a story with a lot of light and I’m looking forward to the sequel.
You could say that Jeremy was “lost in the system,” if Excelsior did in fact have a system for dealing with homeless kids. He spent a few years being passed around between disinterested relatives until finally finding his way to the orphanage at a rooftop settlement called The Kaleidoscope. Jeremy’s sticky fingers got him caught, but his Grace took pity on him and folded him in to her collection of kids. It didn’t take long before he became part of the ‘Scope’s extended family, and he met his best friend, Adam.
To makes ends meet, Jeremy started to venture down to the Grand Market and sing in the hopes that passerby would spare a few coins. Though he had a beautiful voice, the ‘crats didn’t have much of a taste for vocal music at all. It’s considered the realm of paupers and those who can’t afford to attend the Guild of Musicians and learn “proper” music. Evenso, Jeremy was so talented that he caught the ear of one of the maestros. The city’s elite would sometimes sponsor kids from the kitetowns in order to look generous, and soon Jeremy was an apprentice.
As much as the ‘crats liked having a few charity cases around to stroke their egos, it was hard to rise through the ranks regardless of his talent. So at 17, the age when kids in the ‘Scope have to strike out on their own, he still hasn’t reached the rank of journeyman. He may be bullied for being poor and the other students make veiled accusations that he’s really a Traveler, but maybe, just maybe, he can change his stars tonight.
Though anything that comes from the other side is technically illegal, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few Artefacts around. This includes a coveted amplified violin in the collection of Lord Corvid, the city’s most important figure. The aging lord is throwing a party tonight, and Jeremy will get to play a solo in front of all the lords and ladies. If all goes well, he’ll be promoted to journeyman and be able to afford a little place for he and Adam to share when it’s his turn to graduate.
Things seem to be coming up roses, but Jeremy has no idea that just as he lowers his bow to the strings, a stranger arrives in Excelsior and ruins everything…
I discovered Damien Escobar after I had already created the character of Jeremy, but when I saw this video of this passionate violinist, my heart nearly skipped a beat. He reminded me so much of Jeremy, I wanted to include the video so you could see him as clearly as I do.
Here’s a taste of Jeremy and his violin from Riftmaker.
Jeremy stood in the center of a Guild practice room, one of the only places he could ever be alone. He raised his bow and held it poised above the strings of the violin.
The air vibrates with anticipation. The storm gnashes its teeth. The sky above turns smoky and thick, and in the distance, the first patter of raindrops can be heard. The temperature drops ever colder. The thirsty earth stands ready.
Bile churned inside of his guts. His anger rumbled on the horizon like the threat of thunder. He inhaled deeply and stood on the precipice a moment longer before his bow plunged downward, breaking the storm in his mind with the first piercing note.
Lightning flashes across a patchwork of swirling clouds and the roar of their explosions follows seconds behind. The sky is torn apart, and the heavy drops of the lazy drizzle give way to the stinging pelting of rain. Muddy water streams in rivulets, exposing hidden colors in the stones.
All of Jeremy’s turmoil poured from his body and into the melody. The Guild violin was nothing compared to the exquisite instrument of the evening before, but the music in his mind was beyond anything either violin could have produced at the best of times. He’d worried that he wouldn’t get permission to use the school’s violin at all, but news of his warm reception had already reached the maestros, and they were glad to foster his interest.
The trunks of mighty trees groan with the force of the battering wind, the smaller branches cracking in the wake of its violence. Leaves of emerald, chartreuse, and jade shudder and glint in the moments the world is illuminated by the shattered heavens.
His eyes were closed, but the images were vivid in his mind. He gritted his teeth and swayed in and out of the crescendos of a melody of his own design, the lament only his shattered heart could utter.
I love love love this! It is a book of poetry but not stuffy or formal poetry in any sense. It is a collection of Patrick’s writings and thoughts in a very real and immediate way.
Patrick uses words like a kaleidoscope uses colours. He has the words twisting and spinning and soaring in all sorts of unexpected ways to wonderful and creative rhythms. I am in awe of his control of language.
I am also in awe of his subject choices and the determination he shows to positively portray love and the struggle to get by in a difficult word. Here is an extract from on of his poems, ‘Ode to Damaged Souls’:
‘Running too fast, trying to change the dye that’s been cast, I’m trying to make a positive energy and doing the write thing last. Maybe I need some chocolate cake for dinner… sounds good to me, sounds like a winner, you… see this writing thing, I’m just a beginner, an artistic chain of consciousness spinner. Sometimes I am a sinner, but I try to learn something new every day. I try to be versed in the art of play…….’
Patrick covers more than just self description. He promotes love, an open minded attitude to life and an enthusiastic acceptance of the difficulties of life, even though he admits that sometimes that life is a struggle. I feel a surge of positive energy reading his work.
I dipped into this as something light to read. I love reading different takes on the Fair Folk, so this seemed like a good choice.
One of the best parts of this book is the world building that is subtly going on behind the scenes. You are plunged into the middle of the action as the exiled Queen Sentina and her bodyguard find a way to travel from their place of exile to the human realm at Christmas time. As the plot unfolds, small details of the world and its inhabitants leak out, so you find yourself gradually immersed in the background rather than suddenly having a lot of detail dumped on you.
I also liked the portrayal of the nature of the supernatural beings. I grew up thinking fairies were not safe, and this story echoes that impression. The Fair Folk are portrayed as scheming, difficult and indifferent to mortals and it’s incredibly entertaining, especially when they end up in our realm. The characters were shown to be unfamiliar with mortals and their culture and the clash was incredibly well shown.
I enjoyed the pace of the story, as it rattled through the entertaining scenes. There was some sex, which I thought was quite well handled. I don’t read much erotica, but I was glad to see that the sex was part of the plot, rather than the plot being an excuse for the sex. I suspect that sex will be a greater part of the plot in any subsequent stories.
This was a relatively short story. However, at the end of the story they advertised a trilogy that seemed to be focused on the same characters. I shall look out for it with interest.