Three brave, bold daughters of the House of Scorpy recount their kidnapping and subsequent escape from an underground wasteland.
Norton’s first solo appearance since 1999’s Wind in the Stone presents Tamara, Drucilla and Sabina, who share a special birthright. Possessors of mystical power, they can also connect telepathically with each other. Kidnapped in a political ploy—their land resembles medieval Europe, divided into tiny spheres of familial power—and dumped into a place of terrors known as the Dismals, they quickly discover the great extent of their abilities. They make friends with a fierce, catlike creature they dub Climber. They’re shocked to find a man named Zolan living as a hermit in this place of no return. But that’s not the only odd thing about the Dismals. Though at times described as being underground, the area is in fact covered by dense forest. Tribes of something (human? alien?) used to live here and are now communicating with Zolan through their spirits. An ancient evil power rising in the girls’ homeland is also somehow connected to these lost folk in the Dismals. One thing is very clear: the monsters in the area are truly horrible and to be avoided. The girls narrate the segments of their adventures by turn, and the interplay of three voices, perceptions and personalities does much to enrich the text, even when the plot becomes difficult to follow.
For lovers of strong female fantasy characters, a delight. For those in search of clearly imagined alternate worlds, a muddle.