With Fate Conspire
by Marie Brennan
Cover Artist: Cliff Nielson
Review by Harriet Klausner
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765325372
Date: 30 August 2011 List Price $27.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
The Onyx Court of the Fae has existed beneath London for over three centuries. Most surface dwellers remain ignorant of the world that exists underneath the city. However, in the decades since the start of the Industrial Revolution which has brought in the age of iron with pipes and bridges and rails that run over and under the city streets, the Fae are in trouble as that is poison to their kind. For the endangered Fae the advances mean death as the magical realm rapidly recedes. Only the inner strength and determination of Queen Lune keeps the land and its residents from extinction and though she is a courageous battler, she is wearing down.
The Goblin Market head mobster, Nadrett, has begun a plan to steal memories from fae and human. At the same time, Eliza O'Malley continues her desperate search for her best friend Owen who vanished seven years ago. Although everyone thinks she is a lunatic when she insists the fairy kidnapped her sweetheart, her determination is matched only by Lune. Eliza seeks the dog man who betrayed her Owen, Nadrett's slave, Dead Rick the shapeshifter, who understands her quest as his overseer has stolen some of his memory.
The latest Onyx Court Victorian fantasy (see Midnight Never Come, in In Ashes Lie and A Star Shall Fall) is a great entry due to a powerfully described background interwoven into the entertaining story line though at first that depth slows down the tale.
Marie Brennan brings to life Dickensian London (even though the story line occurs almost two decades after that author's death) as many humans live in poverty. Even more spellbinding is the vivid grim descriptions of the Fairy as the Goblin Court matches the squalor of much of London and the Onyx Court is desperate as the iron encroachment leaves the species in peril of extinction as three centuries of coexistence is coming to an end. The seemingly only choice left for those who survive the ordeal is living in a city of iron.
Eliza is a heroic individual who refuses to give up on her childhood friend while also heroic on a mega level is Queen Lune who knows she commits suicide if she refuses to give up -- very mindful of the Neverending Story is overwhelming. However it is the villains who seem the most likely to step out of a Dickens novel as Nadrett is a nastier Fagin and Dead Rick as an Artful Dodger enthralled to his master. Readers will enjoy the end of days as the Iron Age is destroying the Onyx Court with time running out on the beleaguered Fae.