Third of Warrington’s related but independently intelligible aliens-among-us Aetherial Tales fantasies (Midsummer Night, 2010, etc.).
Thirty thousand years ago, the Aetherials, serially immortal, pure-energy beings, fled their home and took up residence, some in human form, on Earth. Previously, Mist, a human-formed Aetherial, was murdered by his duplicitous brother, Rufus, who, thousands of years ago, destroyed the Aetherial city of Azantios. Reborn Mist has few of his memories, human or Aetherial, but knows that he must find Rufus—and kill him. Meanwhile, Birmingham art gallery curator and talented designer Stevie Silverwood receives an unsolicited visionary triptych from old college flame Daniel Manifold. The triptych, called “Aurata’s Promise,” vividly and vigorously depicts a ruined palace, a scarlet-haired goddess and a city in flames. It bears a message to Stevie: “The world needs to see this.” But, arresting though the artwork is, why? Daniel, she discovers, has vanished from his London studio. Mist, recalling something of who and what he is, follows the clues to Birmingham. He recognizes not only the scenes in the triptych, but the people too; only the title remains baffling. But with his rusty human attributes, when he tries to talk to Stevie, she recoils. Then, one night in the gallery, an eerie presence manifests itself, cracks Stevie over the head and vanishes with the artwork. With no other choice, Mist must make another attempt to reassure Stevie, since he will need her help in tracking down Daniel, the triptych and Rufus—whatever the latter is planning, it definitely won’t be good. A classy, beautifully rendered tale that persuasively builds from low-key beginnings into a complex enterprise with real heft, a rich back story and characters that grow with the narrative.
A must for existing fans, while being easily accessible to newcomers.