Held captive by the man who killed her lover, psychologically and sexually abused, forced to watch successive generations of young girls treated similarly and then killed: This sounds more ripped from the headlines than fantasy.
Some 400 years ago, Padraig stole Fenella and cursed her family. The curse broken, damaged Fenella wants only to die. But faeries don’t play nice, and Fenella’s release requires three acts of destruction visited upon her family (known and beloved to readers from Impossible, 2008). She is aided by the faerie queen’s brother Ryland (from Extraordinary, 2010), whose wry, amoral observations provide the closest thing to levity here. This should be a rich, nuanced novel: It boasts survivor guilt, impossible situations and the question of what choice means, all set against a backdrop of complex familial relationships and faeries, with the bonus of tying together two previous and well-liked tales. But flat main character Fenella never elicits sympathy, in part because her abuse is talked around more than about, and her awful behavior (arson, attempted murder and kidnapping) will leave readers hard-pressed to root for her. Even the (destined) brewing romance that brings Fenella back to a place of kindness involves Fenella behaving as a sexual predator, and the late-game switch from selfish to selfless motivations can’t redeem the character.
Unpleasant, unlikable and unbalanced. (Fantasy. 14-18)