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by Marie Brennan

Pub Date: June 9th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-316-02029-9
Publisher: Orbit/Little, Brown

From Brennan (Warrior and Witch, 2006, etc.), a Tudor fantasy mingling real and imagined characters.

Young soldier Michael Deven, bored with dull, routine service to Queen Elizabeth as a Gentlemen Pensioner, finds additional work with the queen’s spymaster, Francis Walsingham. He meets and falls for Anne Montrose, a lady who serves at Hampton Court Palace. But then Anne declares that she cannot marry Deven and vanishes. Devastated, Deven tries to trace her background and whereabouts, but comes up short. Sickly Walsingham, meanwhile, suspecting the meddling of an unseen player in English politics, orders Deven to investigate. What neither Deven nor Walsingham know is that beneath Elizabeth’s Hampton Court lies the Onyx Court, ruled by the faerie queen, Invidiana; and that a pact between Elizabeth and Invidiana has preserved England against Catholic usurpation for nigh 30 years. But even in the unforgiving world of the fae, Invidiana’s ruthlessness and cruelty is extraordinary, and her subjects grasp that the pact benefits only Invidiana—whose chief concern is to protect her own dark secrets. Finally, after half the book has crawled by, Deven learns that Anne is really Lady Lune, an unwilling tool of the Onyx Court. What nobody knows is the source of Invidiana’s power—certainly no ordinary fae magic is at work. Can Doctor John Dee, Elizabeth’s fabled astrologer, help?

A hardworking, sanitized Elizabethan backdrop frames a tortuously passive yarn populated by lifeless characters: Mediocre stuff at best.