First of a Dickensian supernatural—or, as Fletcher prefers it, “supranatural”—fantasy trilogy, from the screenwriter and author of Stoneheart (2006, etc.).
The Oversight, a secret society that patrols the borders between the mundane and the magical, lost most of its membership during the Napoleonic Wars. Now only five remain: Sara Falk, a “Glint” who can view past events by touching objects associated with them; Cook, an ex-pirate; rat-catcher Hodge, who has an affinity for associates Jed the terrier and the ancient Raven; Wayland Smith; and the eerie Mr. Sharp. Also on the premises is Emmet, a golem. If their numbers dip below five (called a Hand), their powers and control dissipate. At the Hand’s London safe house arrives Lucy Harker; she speaks only French, mistrusts them and turns out to be a Glint—and bait for a trap set by mysterious folk-monsters called Sluagh. Also involved are lawyer twins Zebulon and Issachar Templebane and sociopathic wizard-scientist Viscount Mountfellen. The plotters seek the key to controlling the dark side of the universe. Accordingly, Lucy, under a compulsion implanted in her mind by the Sluagh to steal the key, blunders into a magic cabinet of mirrors. In avoiding the cabinet’s guardian cobra, she falls into one of the mirrors and vanishes, shattering the mirror. Sara tries to grab Lucy, but the mirror lops off her hand, which vanishes to wherever Lucy went—though somehow it’s still attached. A remarkable combination of British folklore, brisk pacing and wide-ranging imagination is enhanced by multiple narrative strands, some not yet fully revealed, and set forth in evocative prose. Set against all this, unfortunately, are characters imbued with a particular monomania rather than genuine personality and presence.
Intriguing and with enough potential bubbling underneath to keep readers agreeably optimistic about future installments.