In Miles’ debut fantasy novel, an art student’s dreams bring her into contact with a wizard and his extraordinary realm.
Sara Moore studies sculpture at the Hite Institute for the Arts in Louisville, Kentucky. She’s having trouble finishing her final piece that will allow her to graduate and begin a rewarding career as an artist. Her troubled personal life isn’t helping matters; her twin sister, Marilla, has been in a coma following a car accident eight months ago, and her best friend, Peter, could be the love of her life, if only she’d commit to their relationship. Also, Sara’s been having vivid dreams about a strange gnome—and once, she woke with a splinter after dreaming of touching a wooden table. Meanwhile, on a world called Canard, Dane Whitley is a “dewin,” or music mage, who’s capable of harnessing the divine Song without going mad from the accompanying Dissonance. He crafts magical instruments that are forbidden by the conclave, the religious order that’s ruled Canard since the good Storm King sacrificed himself to save the people from the evil Wyrm. Later, when Dane sees an elusive “fae” spirit named Sara, she tells him, “Fire. Fire everywhere. Run.” He follows her command and barely escapes being burned alive by conclave acolytes. Can Dane and Sara somehow forge a bond and solve the problems that plague each other’s lives? Miles offers a dense emotional tapestry for fantasy fans who may be looking for more than swords and sorcery. The intensive worldbuilding involves gnomes who raise human children (known as “deemlings”), shape-changers known as “chymaera,” and a monumentally epic World Tree (“The Tree was enormous, bone white, its top shrouded. It had split perfectly down the center....Clouds served as the Tree’s canopy”). However, although Canard’s narrative ambles forward with wild invention, Sara’s more grounded narrative sings more strongly. The complex family dynamics surrounding Marilla’s situation, for example, could fuel its own novel. Miles’ final revelations promise further layering of reality and fantasy in a planned sequel.
A richly conceived fantasy with a grand emotional payoff.