Received to review via Netgalley; publication date 3rd October 2017
I didn’t really know what to expect going into this book. Fairyland, with missionaries? Hm. And then it kept sounding like a Gothic novel, too. Really, it delightfully combines all of that stuff: deep philosophical ponderings about the nature of fairies, fairies which are cruel and truth-telling and difficult to understand, and Gothic atmosphere and twists. The pace can be a little slow at times, and I’ll admit I called both of the twists regarding a certain character… but I enjoyed the atmosphere and the way the various puzzles built up and came to a conclusion.
If you’re not interested in something dark and twisted, step away. And if you’re really allergic to theological stuff, bear in mind that the main character is really pious, and the other main character is actually clergy. The fact that Jeannette Ng knows her stuff re: medieval and missionary theology is really clear, and the characters wonder about it and struggle with it to an extent that you might find boring. I was a little lost by it, honestly, but interested enough in the overall puzzle of it to keep going. And I really love the way the Fae are portrayed: confusing and cruel and capricious and, yes, beautiful but alien.
Overall, it does a lot right and I’m pretty intrigued by the world. The pacing is sometimes a little off, but that’s pretty much part and parcel of the Gothic atmosphere.