Monday, June 29, 2009

Puff of Fragrant Air

I've enjoyed all of Melissa Marr's books about people interacting with faeries because they take the emotional ramifications seriously, the faeries are truly strange and powerful, and the writing is often exquisite. Much of that is true about this third book, Fragile Eternity. Aislinn, the new faerie Summer Queen, struggles to balance her role as the Summer King's co-ruler with her love for her long-time friend Seth. Keenan, the Summer King, desperately tries to preserve his kingdom with the new strength that a long-lost Queen brings them, but doesn't want to give up his love for the Winter Queen. And Seth, Aislinn's mortal lover, wants to trust her but is terrifyingly aware of his fragility as a mortal in a faerie court.

They all have blind spots they don't share with each other -- Aislinn can't see the danger Seth faces merely by being near her, Keenan refuses to see that ignoring his choices is another way of making them, Seth thinks that romantic love is the same for faeries and mortals and can't understand the complexities of Aislinn's new life. When Seth makes a unilateral decision that affects them all, the balance between the Faerie courts and the rules shifts alarmingly.

The images of the various faerie courts are lovely, dark or bright. There are no easy answers, nothing that makes everything happy-ever-after. It's a beautiful book to read, but Aislinn's passivity weakens the overall effect. She never seems to rise to her role as Queen, which admittedly would take a strong woman, but her lack makes the sacrifices the men around her continually offer less moving. A strong but flawed novel.

But then, I loved her second book, Ink Exchange, so much that anything less than perfect would disappoint.

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