by Lee Carroll
Cover Artist: Photo: Scott S. Warren / Corbis
Review by Mel Jacob
Tor Books Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765325983
Date: 02 August 2011 List Price $15.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
The husband and wife team of Carol Goodman and Lee Slonimsky, writing as Lee Carroll, have created the Watchtower, a mild urban fantasy unlike most of the genre. It continues the interactions between the fey and human worlds peopled by various fairies, demons, the evil John Dee, and vampires begun in Black Swan Rising. Like her ancestors, jewelry designer Garet James guards humanity from evil. Her allies, Melusine and Oberon as well as the four-hundred-year-old vampire Will Hughes, have taught her the skills she needs to survive and fight evil. Garet pursues Will because he took a magical talisman from her that he believes will enable him to reach the Summer Country, the land of faerie, and become mortal once more.
The novel alternates between Garet in the present seeking the vampire Will and the young Will's early life. The novel centers on the eternal love of Will and Marguerite D'Arques, both as mortals and immortals. Like O. Henry's "Gift of the Magi", each makes a sacrifice that negates the other's. Will becomes a vampire to spend eternity with Marguerite while she becomes mortal to live out her life with him. Garet worries the vampire Will only loves her because she resembles Marguerite.
The vampire Will leaves clues for Garet starting at a small church in Paris. Her journey takes her through many of the tourist attractions in Paris as well as encounters with fey or fey friends who direct her search for Will. Garet's abilities are repeatedly tested as is her love for Will.
The young Will, an arrogant youth, is a pupil of a poet, a thinly veiled, but unnamed William Shakespeare. After Will flees his domineering father and seeks his fortune in London as an actor, he meets the poet's beloved, Marguerite D'Arques, and falls desperately in love.
Garet has fashioned a curious watch that allows her to manipulate time. She finds the Summer Country and her Will. To become mortal, he must return to the time of his transformation and drink the blood of the creature that turned him into a vampire.
To become mortal, Marguerite swears she and her descendents will continue to keep humans safe from all evil, especially vampires. When Will makes his bargain with sorcerer John Dee and becomes a vampire, their love becomes impossible. Despite his handsome face, the young Will is too callow and shallow to inspire such passion, and Marguerite seems too restrained for readers to believe in such deep love.
Slow moving at times, the story eventually picks up speed. The climax provides plenty of action and a few twists. Carroll has left a lot of loose ends to take up in another Garet adventure. The accomplished and colorful narrative is peopled with strange creatures such as an immortal sea fey woman with the arms of an octopus. The poetry added nothing and proved distracting for this reader.