Split Worlds series (book #1)
Angry Robot - 26th February 2013
400 pages - 16.99 $
I must admit, this is once again the cover that first caught my attention. Then the story: a magical world and a mystery, what more should I want?
Something is wrong in Aquae Sulis, Bath’s secret mirror city.
The new season is starting and the Master of Ceremonies is missing. Max, an Arbiter of the Split Worlds Treaty, is assigned with the task of finding him with no one to help but a dislocated soul and a mad sorcerer.
There is a witness but his memories have been bound by magical chains only the enemy can break. A rebellious woman trying to escape her family may prove to be the ally Max needs.
But can she be trusted? And why does she want to give up eternal youth and the life of privilege she’s been born into?
What I think of it
A very enchanting novel (in all senses). If at the beginning, I thought the idea of a world parallel to ours strongly resembled Harry Potter, the author knows very quickly how to make us forget Hogwarts to transport us into a world of her own, much more mature and complex (it is no longer a duality of good / bad, but a conflict between different groups).
What are the Split Worlds? I admit it's the complex part of the book. It took me some time to be able to get a picture of this organization of a world so different from ours. The world is divided into two worlds, one is Exilium, " one of the finest prisons " where sorcerers have sent Fae to prevent them from interfering in the lives of Mundanes (humans) who live in the other world, in Mundanus (our reality). Between the two worlds is the Nether where live Fae-touched (humans affected by the Fae grace so to speak...)
So there are several groups in this book: the Fae-touched governed by Fae, Sorcerers who ensure that the Fae behave well, the Mundanus, we humans and finally Arbiters sent by Sorcerers, whose role is to defer any problems between Fae and humans.
The grand master of ceremonies disappeared from Nether and Cathy, a rebel fae-touched must find him, helped by Max an arbiters and Sam, a mundane. In parallel to this story, another mystery unfolds (which Max would prefer to investigate). So there is a small element of mystery, which always pleases me! There are also tensions between factions, problems of "ethnic" affiliations, a hint of struggle for women's rights (in the Nether! Do not worry, this is not a feminist novel!) This is thus a multifaceted book that should touch different person.
What make this a good story? Mainly for the magic of these parallel worlds. The author has created a new reality and explains it without seeming to. Eventually, all become obvious and logical! Then the atmosphere. If Mundanus lies in our time, the Nether is stuck in the Victorian era it. The characters are dressed in the fashion of the time... and do not know electricity or modern amenities. Moreover, these differences are discovered with Cathy who had to return home after some years in our reality and who rebels against social norms and lack of modernism. This stilted atmosphere typical of the era adds a touch of Victorian novel that reinforces the magic of the book... as do the gargoyle serving as sidekick for Max. But the story is also excellent for the quality of writing, the boundless imagination of the author, the mystery that reveals itself progressively and ends resoundingly.
In a nutshell
A very good book, very pleasant and enjoyable, a magical world that carries you and endearing characters. I warmly recommend it and especially for lovers of fantasy... and Downtown Abbey !