The (literally) heartless queen of the Unseelie Court meets her thoroughly deserved fate at last at the hands of some of the forest’s humblest residents in this trilogy closer.
Starting up where the middle volume, Dark Waters of Hagwood (2013), left off, it’s one battle or act of cruelty after another as Rhiannon Rigantona—not a pasta dish but the deathless and utterly evil faerie queen—pursues her violent ends. She not only makes war on Hagwood’s diminutive werlings, doughty if gooey sluglungs, and all forest creatures in general, but brutally slaughters her own Hollow Hill subjects, loyal and otherwise, as prelude to a campaign of worldwide subjugation. As she works her depredations aboveground (“How the gore doth pump and fount,” hoots a minion), Jarvis sends werling Gamaliel Tumpin and sidekicks with equally homely monickers far below for fresh charges of prophecy and purpose in preparation for a climactic showdown atop appropriately named Witch’s Leap. As it turns out, opening the magically sealed casket that preserves Rigantona’s heart and invulnerability requires a final, ultimate sacrifice. The author gets there smartly while adding a “haggish host” of lightning-wielding troll witches mounted on giant boars to a teeming cast already notable for its wild diversity of goblins, spriggans, wyrms, and other species (many of which are depicted in warty detail at the chapter heads).
A comfortably formulaic woodland epic finds resolution in widespread slaughter and melodramatic flourishes. (Fantasy. 10-12)