A magical being fleeing her past encounters a young pianist in this novel.
Kalida is one of the Cavern-born, beings whose magical abilities and fighting prowess have made them multi-realm conquerors. Music seems harsh and unnatural to the cold, cruel Cavern-born, but after hearing a prisoner’s song, Kalida finds herself unable to bear her home’s darkness and violence. She escapes to the woods in the realm of Andrea, where she watches the Snowden children, Christine and Charlie, grow up in a nearby manor. Penniless pianist Desmond “Des” Fairweather visits the manor one day at the urging of his friend Jake Banner, a tabloid reporter chasing a scoop that the now-adult Christine can talk to her garden flowers. Des has a tragic past—a spell gone wrong killed his parents—and is reluctant to acknowledge or practice magic. But Jake is convinced Des attracts magical beings and promises an audition with a local symphony in exchange for the musician’s help. Taking a moment to practice on Christine’s piano, Des glimpses an enigmatic woman who seems entranced by his music. The woman, of course, is Kalida. As Jake searches for a story and helps Christine tackle her problems—Charlie is missing and a cousin is scheming to acquire the manor—Des and Kalida pursue a deeper connection. But Kalida’s Cavern-born family has come to take her back to its realm, endangering the whole group. Tesh (The Monsters of Spiders’ Rest, 2017, etc.) writes movingly of Kalida’s gradual metamorphosis after hearing the prisoner’s song (“a crack in our world”), making a compelling case for the transformative power of music. Des and Jake’s interactions are snappily written, with their combative banter and Jake’s antics lending a screwball comedy appeal to balance Kalida’s heavier story. When Des and Kalida do properly meet, a mysterious connection becomes romantic a bit too quickly to not feel forced. The weight put on their sudden true love causes the novel’s later portions to feel a bit rushed. Despite these structural problems, the book delivers a fun read.
A frothy and stirring tale that blends music, magic, and romance.