Reeve (Pathfinder, 2010, etc.) begins a new fantasy series in which the defenders of magic must flush out a sect of necromancers.
In the kingdom of Tyrra, Draius is a member of the City Guard. She and her career-obsessed husband, Jan, have a 7-year-old son named Peri. Like all marriages in Tyrra, theirs was arranged by careful matriarchal planning and exists within the confines of a contract. Also unique to Tyrran culture are the Phrenii, translucent elementals that resemble unicorns and roam the streets of Betarr Serasa. One night, in the Sea Serpent tavern, a member of the King’s Council named Meran-Nelja Reggis is found nailed to the floor of an upstairs room and eviscerated. Missing organs and fingers, as well as symbols painted in blood, point to the illegal teachings of Nherissa—or necromancy. The crime scene is spoiled when Cmdr. Erik is too drunk to contain the tavern’s crowds. Draius takes the case, aided by the handsome but inexperienced Lt. Lornis. Complicating matters are the shards of a magical artifact called the Kaskea, which create a bond with the Phrenii and which only the King may wield. Despite Tyrra’s reliance on science and procedure, anyone abusing pieces of the Kaskea has the power to upend their society. Reeve seamlessly combines disparate motifs to create an evocative new urban fantasy realm. Fascinating is the idea that Tyrra considers the word “unicorn” vulgar, and only children may touch the ethereal Phrenii without suffering ill effects (like shame and guilt). Tyrra is a place with a living history, the details of which (including a recent plague that affected birthrates) only enrich the story. Several first-person chapters from the killer’s perspective add tension as Reeve leads readers toward an otherworldly finale.
A lavish blend of urban crime and high fantasy.