One of the best series I’ve read over the last couple of years is this one – see my review of the first book Glass Thorns here. Will this next slice about the magical theatre company sustain the very high standard Rawn has set so far? For nearly two years, Cade has been rejecting his Elsewhens, the Fae gift that grants him prescient glimpses of possible futures, by simply refusing to experience them. But the strain is driving a wedge between him and his theatre troupe, Touchstone, and making him erratic on stage and off. It takes his best friend Mieka to force Cade into accepting the visions again, but when he does, he witnesses a terrible attack, though he cannot see who is responsible. Cade knows the future he sees can be changed, and when he finally discovers the truth behind the attack, he takes the knowledge to the only man in the Kingdom who can prevent it: his deadly enemy.
Once more, Rawn provides an engrossing, grown-up adventure. I love the fact that Cade and Mieka are now no longer the young, driven newbies desperate to prove themselves. Although being established stars provides its own challenges… Rawn gets right inside the skins of her two spiky, complicated characters and if you are looking for a simple escapist tale where everything is cut and dried, then this isn’t it. Unlike many Fantasy stories, Rawn’s world and characters are every bit as nuanced and tricky as our own. While it appears that gnomes, elves, dwarves and humans all get on well, there are strains showing in Albeyn society. Magic is treated with suspicion and prejudice in surrounding states – but with a religious faction gaining favour in the highest echelons of society, there are increasingly those who are turning their back on those who use magic for entertainment, or work, or anything at all… And while trimming elves’ ears at birth is supposedly a thing of the past, it may well be a practice that will be coming back.
Meanwhile Touchstone is poised to become the best theatrical troupe in the country, though that isn’t the end of their problems. As Cade is wrestling with his own magical talents, Touchstone still have issues of their own to sort out – domestic life collides with the demands of touring; the pressure of constantly providing new, exciting plays; betrayal by someone theythought they could trust…
So there is no trace of this series running out of steam – if anything it just goes on getting better. Though whatever you do, don’t pick up Window Wall first. You need to go back to the start to get a real flavour of this original, outstanding series and it would be a crime to do anything else. 10/10