Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher as part of the Harper Voyager Super Reader program.
“Don’t speak to me about power as if you understand it, boy. You don’t know what power is. You twiddle your fingers and deconstruct a thing in front of you and you think that’s power. That’s not power; that’s ability. Power is another thing entirely.”
When he was a boy, Colby Stevens made a wish that changed his life forever. Although he became a wizard, and gained the power to see beyond the veil, the djinni he wished on, Yashar, was cursed, so all of his wishes twist and end badly. Colby was able to defeat his enemies in the Limestone Kingdom, and ban them from Austin, but he couldn’t save his best friend, Ewan. Still reeling from the loss of his friend, Colby takes a step too far in his new role as the supernatural sheriff of Austin, and runs afoul of the city’s genius loci. But Austin is the least of his problems; the battle with the faeries earned Colby a certain amount of infamy, and now all of his old enemies know where to find him. The Queen of the Dark Things is coming for revenge, and it may be that nothing short of a deal with the Devil can save him.
Like Dreams and Shadows, Queen of the Dark Things starts slowly, as Cargill carefully assembles all the threads of his story before he begins to weave them together. The result is a delicately crafted narrative about power and the responsibilities that come with it. It takes some time for the central plot to emerge, but playing it close to the vest gives Cargill a great capacity for surprising the reader, though he sometimes gives away too much in the epigraphs. Where Dreams and Shadows focused on faerie lore, Queen of the Dark Things shifts the mythical focus to the traditions of the Australian Aborigines, particularly the Dreamtime, which Cargill utilizes to great effect. Another standout in this story is the personification of the city of Austin, who struggles to protect her people from the forces descending on the city. Once again, Cargill’s patient work pays off with a stunning conclusion that makes it worth going along for the ride.
You might also like The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker.