The beginning of a new fantasy mystery trilogy, from the authors of Swept Up by the Sea (2013, etc.).
Ellis Harkington wakes in a coffin in skeletal form, acquires flesh and rises—although she remembers nothing of this and little of anything else when she finds herself on a train traveling to the remote seaside town of Gamin, Maine. This is mysterious. In fact, just pepper every sentence of this review with the word “mysterious” and you’ll get the idea. Waiting to greet Ellis is Uncle Lucian, a doctor whom Ellis doesn’t remember, although he gives her to understand that she’s been away in the city being treated for an illness. Nor does she recall the handsome Merrick Bacchus, “benefactor of the entire town.” Merrick urges her to move into his huge house, where Lucian also lived until leaving for unknown reasons. Ellis does remember her cousin Jenny March and, vaguely, a secret garden and an ominous gate through which she herself disappeared, although Jenny did not follow. Everybody insists that her memories will return, but nobody offers to explain. Jenny mentions the “rules.” There are rumors about a series of ghastly murders. A fire burns down half the town. The Nightbirds, purportedly a book society yet with no books in evidence, acclaims her reappearance. Ellis recalls none of the members. One night, an alluring soldier visits Ellis; he nearly seduces her, but then she notices a strange blue mark on his face, whereupon he turns into a giant black moth. In the woods by the shore lurks the apparently shipwrecked Capt. Isaiah Walker, who himself watches a vessel called Mary Celeste ground itself on the rocks. It’s certainly all puzzling and mostly satisfying, if promising to be a thin stretch over three volumes.
Hickman & Hickman fans will jump right in.