Contemporary fantasy set in Scotland, from Tuttle (The Mysteries, 2005, etc.).
Situated on Scotland’s northwest coast, the town of Appleton enjoys a mild climate, has a spectacular, if crumbling, library and museum and once produced apples that were the envy of the country. At the annual Apple Fair, a dark stranger would crown the Apple Queen and share with her one of Appleton’s famed apples, thus securing the town’s prosperity for the coming year. Once in a great while, a magical golden apple appeared, determining the town’s magical fortunes half a century hence. But once the apple business collapsed, the town slowly decayed. Now, three American women—librarian Kathleen Mullaroy, would-be apple-harvester Nell Westray and young Ashley Kaldis—are there to visit relatives—and find out about Phemie, who ran away from Appleton in 1950 rather than be crowned Apple Queen. Her dark “stranger”—actually Ronan Wall, scion of one of the town’s oldest families—helped her flee. Problem was, this was a golden-apple year, so the town lost its luck. Now, a landslide blocks the only road in or out, cutting the town off from the rest of the world—and who should show up but Ronan himself, miraculously youthful and apparently eager to make amends for his transgression of old. As if to confirm his power, Nell’s apple tree brings forth a golden apple. But which of the three women will Ronan choose, and whose heart's desire will be realized?
Despite the layered folklore and hardworking backdrop, this suffers from tepid romancing and incoherent plotting.