From the author of The Dark Is Rising and its sequels; another fantasy powered by cryptic messages and high-sounding allusions. Cally's father is dying and her mother has gone to help him; Westerly, raised without a father, has just seen his mother killed. Cooper thrusts these two, who have never met, into an unnamed land where they travel, for unclear reasons, toward the sea despite an abundance of obstacles--a tower of dreams, a desert, a snowstorm--and the always abrupt, unsettling appearance of menacing Lady, Taranis. Though periodically helped by guides more familiar with this alien territory, essentially they struggle on their own, both with the assorted physical dangers and, as emphatically, with the emotional strains they seem to represent. "Your world is all change, all journeying, and nothing happens and no one that lives is ever lost," advises Snake. Lugan, another sometime speaker of truths, promises they will know "all the discoveries and lovely astonishments that go with the grief and the pain, in a land ruled by Death." Cooper has a real talent for creating mood, for building suspense from obscure dialogue and brief encounters, but the long, intentionally hooded beginning may confuse more readers than it attracts, and the outcome, despite inflected explanations, seems fitting but not quite fresh.