New Book Nook: Longshadow Mixes Romance and Mystery

This review was originally posted on The Geeky Waffle. It has been reposted here with permission.

With her Regency fairy tale series, Olivia Atwater has shown she has a gift for turning a story you thought was familiar on its head. Oftentimes a retelling will adhere so closely to the story it’s meant to be reimagining that you can already see the beats playing out, and the dots connecting to the familiar. Not so in this case.

In Longshadow, the third book in Regency Faerie Tales, the story follows Abigail, the adopted daughter of Dora and Elias from Half a Soul. Abigail is a child of both our world and of faerie, and doesn’t quite fit in with the conventions of either, try as she might to understand them. Like her father, Abigail has the ability to use magic, and this serves her well when young women her age begin dying mysteriously across London in a way that baffles even the Lord Sorcier himself.

It’s then that Abigail, her ghostly brother Hugh, and a laundress named Mercy — to whom there is definitely more than meets the eye — decide to try and figure things out for themselves. Whatever the cause, they know it’s definitely not of this world. 

A recurring theme throughout Atwater’s books has been the juxtaposition of real world injustices and class differences with the more magical fairy tale aspects of the story. This messaging goes even harder in this book, because unlike Dora, who was raised within the ton, or Effie, who aspired to marry into it, Abigail was raised a little in both worlds and has a foot in faerie besides. Of all three of the heroines, she sees the world most clearly for what it is right away. Perhaps this too, is why Abigail is so ready to open herself up to falling in love with Mercy.

The way Atwater writes about the land of faerie also remains an utter delight. Its not serious in a broody kind of way, but instead comical and borderline absurd. The absurdity too has a point, luring you into a false sense of security so that when Faerie shows its terrifying side, it pulls the proverbial rug out from under you. 

If there’s one thing I wanted more of in this novel, it was the romance between Abigail and Mercy. The first two books had such wonderful buildup between their protagonists, but I found in this case Abigail and Mercy got a little too wrapped up in trying to solve their mystery that they didn’t devote enough time to solving the mystery of the growing attraction between them. A small point — because I’m greedy and always want more, more, more with romance —  in an otherwise delightful read.

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