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Midsummer Night by Freda Warrington
Edited by James Frenkel
Cover Artist: Kinuko Y. Craft
Review by Mel Jacob
Tor Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765318701
Date: 23 November 2010 List Price $27.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Gill Sharma, once an Olympic class runner, struggles to survive and build a new life for herself in Freda Warrington's latest novel Midsummer Night. She didn't reckon on the Otherworld or the obsessed Rufus Holt when she sought the solitude of Northern Scotland. Could the painkillers she took to blunt the intense pain caused by a car accident that destroyed her career affect her view of the world? Then, Peta, a talented mask maker with special abilities, and Leith, a fey young man, force her to re-enter the world she wanted to escape. Facing herself takes courage, but so does fighting the Otherworld and its denizens who dislike humans.

Gill seeks solitude in northern Scotland at Cairndoran House, home of noted sculptor Dame Juilana Flagg. She'd also lost her mentor and lover who'd lost interest when she could no long compete. With no job and a new, uncomfortable life, she retreats from people. However, she knows little of the history of the place or the tragedies that had occurred there. Kidnappings by the Dubh Sidhe might have included Adam, Juliana's uncle, and Leon, the illegitimate son of Juilana's husband. No trace of either was ever found.

For fifteen years, Juliana has worked on Midsummer Night, a sculpture of glass, stone, and wood with strange haunting qualities that frighten some. She has destroyed more pieces than she has completed. Only she knows the true nature of her work and its role in protecting all she loves.

This contemporary fantasy is the second of the Aetherial Tales. In these novels, a race of people many would call the fair folk, fairies, demons, even sorcerers, interact with humans in a multitude of ways, sometimes for good, but other times causing pain and even death. Their world overlaps Earth, but in another dimension--Otherworld. Portals allow passage from one to the other.

For fourteen years the portals remained closed, but reopen when Gill stumbles through one and meets Leith and the charismatic Rufus Holt. At first, she has no knowledge of this and assumes the village is another quaint place. When Rufus takes away her pain, joy follows. She leaves unaware she has changed the balance of power between the normal world and the Otherworld.

Like so many British and Irish fantasy writers, Warrington writes beautiful prose with lush descriptions. She digs deep into her characters, and, as they develop, the readers learn surfaces are far different from the real people. The sculptures of Juliana form an apt metaphor for the complex personalities of both human and the Aetherials. They are different people by the end of the novel and she excels at weaving in tantalizing bits of past history to show why they act and react as they do.

A third volume, Grail of the Summer Stars, will appear in the near future. The first of the series, Elfland, received critical acclaim. While some strands carry throughout, each novel stands alone and focuses on different characters.

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