Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Mother of Souls (Alpennia #3), by Heather Rose Jones

Bella Books, ISBN 9781594935176, November 2016

Serafina Talarico has been looking for a place where she and her magic can fit in. She has felt she might have found a place, with her landlady, Luzie Valorin, with whom she has been collaborating on an opera about the historic woman scholar, Tanfrit. Yet as close as they've become, Luzie can't offer her what she really wants.

Meanwhile, some strange weather magic continues to plague Alpennia, Margarit's young cousin Iulien has arrived unexpectedly, and Barbara, the Baroness Saveze, has been shot and badly wounded.

There are many difficult decisions to make. Margarit's planned Tanfrit University needs a staff. Barbara has no heir. Margarit is reluctant to accept that what Luzie and Serafina have been doing together is not greatly different from the mysteries she works on in a more religious context. And the weather mystery seems to be an attack, but what are they to do when they can't find its source?

Oh, and Jeanne and Antuniet have a little surprise on the way.

This is a Ruritarian fantasy, with a little country occupying an unexpected place in the middle of Europe, in the 1820s. It takes up the threads of the earlier books, Daughter of Mystery and The Mystic Marriagewith the focus on what were in the earlier books more minor characters. The characters are interesting and complex and likable, and the 1820s European politics are well-grounded.

I found it a very satisfying book, and a fitting follow-up to the previous two. I hope to see more in this world. Good fantasy doesn't have to be grimdark, really it doesn't! I'll confess to reading this one slowly, to make it last.

Highly recommended.

I received this book (well, the Alpennia Bundle) as a gift. I'm reviewing it entirely voluntarily.