A map can make sense out of the seen world. But it can also evoke greed. And what of a map of the heart?
Legend, allegory, fantasy—this second novel by Domingue (The Mercy of Thin Air, 2005) entwines genres to cast a spell upon its reader. In a faraway realm, a king is eager to know the lay of the land. Our heroine, Aoife, yearning to be free of the restrictions set on women and manipulating Prince Wyl’s affection for her, secures training as a mapmaker. Charged with mapping domains beyond the kingdom’s borders, Aoife discovers a remarkable Utopia. With streets paved in gold and rumors of a treasure guarded by a dragon, these people live peaceably. Aoife instinctively tries to protect them by revealing little when she returns home, but the truth comes out. Soon, Wyl’s cruel and covetous brother, Raef, plots to conquer the peaceable community and gain their treasures. Forced into exile, Aoife must leave Wyl and their children. She seeks shelter within the Utopia, where she finds kindness, compassion and even love. Domingue’s tale is filled with the fantastical and magical, including Voices, women of the Utopian society who intuitively understand all languages and experience all memories. Guilt-stricken for having brought war upon the community, however, Aoife will not find peace within herself until she confesses the whole of her past to a witness. A warrior once renowned for never having deliberately killed, Leit returns to the peaceful community scarred physically and emotionally. In bearing witness to each other, Aoife and Leit find a measure of tranquility. Told in the second person (which reads awkwardly at times), the novel forces the reader into the role of witness, too, as Aoife recounts her life with frequent admonitions to “tell the truth.”
A curious, thought-provoking story about how the heart’s terrain bears charting, too.