Thursday, November 11, 2010

Review - The Autumn Castle by Kim Wilkins (4/5 stars)

The Autumn CastleReading level: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Size: 560 pages
Publisher: Aspect
Release Date: March 1, 2005
ISBN-13: 978-0446616638
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Bought Audio Book
Rating: 4/5 stars

I have been wanting to read a book from Kim Wilkins for a while now.  I listened to this on audio book and the audio book was well done.  This was a pretty good book.  It is an urban fantasy but reminds more of Charles DeLint type of urban fantasy versus Laurell Hamilton type.  This book also channels a very fairy tale like vibe; you have a fairy princess, an evil killer, and an evil crone.

The book switches between the viewpoints of four different characters.  The first is Christine who lives in an artist colony with her boyfriend Jude and whose life is ruled by the chronic pain (caused by a horrible car accident) she goes through every day.  The second is Mayfridh, the fairy queen and childhood friend of Christine, who is drawn into the real world and starts to inadvertently cause trouble for Christine with her beauty and attraction to Jude.  The third is Emanuel (Manny for short) who is a fairy hunter who kills fairies to use their bones in his sculpture, he runs the artist colony where Christine and Jude live.  The fourth is an old crone who controls the fairy kingdom's magic and hates Mayfridh with a passion; she believes Mayfridh is not the true fairy queen.  When Christine enters fairy land and discovers a pain free existence, she begins to get addicted to it; when Mayfridh enters the real world she begins to be addicted to Jude; the old crone is out for Mayfridh's blood, and Manny wants to bone Mayfridh to complete his Bone Wife sculpture.  Needless to say Midsummer's Dream-like chaos ensues in matters of love, life, and death.

There are a few things I really liked about this book.  The characters are well done, easy to sympathize with, and easy to understand.  The fairy world that Wilkins has created is interesting in how the realm switches location with seasons, it is interesting how much of a role this fact plays in the storyline.  I love how Wilkins weaves a story in which all these somewhat unrelated characters are drawn together to create an intriguing story. 

Most of the story is propelled forward by the reader's need to learn Jude's big secret.  Wilkins does a good job of keeping the secret...well..secret and also does an excellent job of having the characters gradually pile deception on top of deception until eventually they are all caught up in a web of lies.

I do have some complaints though too.  I really didn't like any of the characters.  Christine is too passive and whiny for most of the book, Mayfridh is self-centered and naive, Jude self-centered and cruel...and those are the "good" characters.  To be honest I was kind of happy to not read more about them; these characters all personified elements of what is wrong with humanity and society in general.

This book was more of a mystery/drama/romance than anything; there isn't much action at all.  This is an urban fantasy that is more like some of Charles DeLint's works than the more modern urban fantasies that are being published by the boat loads.  To be honest, although I enjoyed the fairy-tale like quality to the story, it was a bit slow for me at points and I missed the action.  The set-up took a bit too long and the story seemed to drag on towards the end.

The story ended well with a satisfying and happy ending.  In fact the ending seemed a bit too happy given the tone of the rest of the story, but I like happy endings so I won't complain.

Overall a good story; recommended for fans of dark fairy tales and urban fantasies like Charles deLint's.  I also have Giants of the Frost by Kim Wilkins to read and I will be reading that.  I wasn't totally sold on Wilkins as an author, but I liked it enough to read another book by her before I make a final judgment.

This book goes towards the following challenges:
- Speculative Fiction Reading Challenge Book List
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review, this is a book on my TBR pile and I keep meaning to get around to it one day. This is propelling it up the ranks.