Classic fantasy, horror and literary tropes mingle in uneasy tension in this ambitious, maddening, fascinating opener to a projected trilogy.
A schoolboy hellbent on avenging his father’s death; an escaped psychiatric patient (or, perhaps, a time-traveling revolutionary sent back to prevent a dystopian future); a changeling ensorcelled in a frozen fairyland; a thrill-seeker ready to sacrifice anything to undo the death of his wife; and a jaded Victorian whose theft of an occult artifact reverberates through past and present: Five separate storylines collide during a solstice blizzard at a remote Gothic ruin of an estate. Continually unveiling new facets, the tale creates a dizzying sensation, perpetually teetering on the brink of revelation only to fall headlong into deeper mystery. No author is better than Fisher at weaving disparate narratives, characters, even genres into an enthralling tapestry, nor at highlighting exactly the right detail to invest the whole with chilling significance. Unfortunately, so much time is spent crafting the pattern and atmosphere of the intersecting threads that readers are left befuddled as to what, precisely—if anything—actually happens over the course of the plot.
Readers will be dazzled, captivated, frustrated and desperate for the next installment. (Science fiction/fantasy. 12-18)