Hello again book lovers. A couple weeks ago I sat down to put together my August TBR (to be read) list and thought about where I was with unread books just a couple years ago. Spoiler: not a great place.
I used to hit up Half Price Books and Goodwill on a regular basis. I owned several hundred books and, despite the fact that I had only read a small fraction of them, I was still buying several books every time I went to one of those stores. Some of the books on my shelf I’d had for years, and I couldn’t have told you what they were about or if I even wanted to read them anymore.
Then, I got this job and decided to move from Ligonier to Kendallville. That meant that I had to move all of those books, which had overflowed the three or four bookshelves I had and became a precarious sea of book skyscrapers. After proudly purging 50-100 books before moving, I still had more than 20 printer-paper boxes full of books. Not a fun moving experience.
Since then, I’ve gotten rid of nearly all those books. I have probably 150 books, with roughly 50 on my shelf waiting to be read. The rest of my collection are books that I enjoyed and loved, along with some special or signed editions. What changed?
First, I went through all of my books and was completely honest about whether or not I would ever read them. Then I looked at the condition. Since they were nearly all bought secondhand, some of them were pretty rough. I only kept the books I was still interested in reading and that I would want to keep afterward. Any books that were too torn-up to keep I added to my Goodreads list and then they joined the monstrous stack of rejected books.
These days, I don’t buy books I haven’t read. Instead, I borrow books from the library. Luckily, our library in Kendallville is part of the Evergreen Indiana library system, so even if our library doesn’t have a copy of the book I want I can go online and search the Evergreen catalog. If one of the other participating libraries has the book I just put it on hold and it gets mailed over. I read it and then decide if I want to get a copy to add to my collection.
I still shop Half Price Books because I’m pretty sure I’m allergic to paying full price for books (I visited Barnes and Noble a while back and my brain nearly exploded), but I go less often, and I don’t always leave with a book.
So if you’re interested in a book I review in this column, it’s safe to say that you can get it from your library. Even if you don’t live in Kendallville, I’m almost positive all of the libraries in the four-county area are part of the Evergreen system.
Now, on to the review! This month I’ve got a back-listed historical fantasy novel for you. I read Marie Brennan’s five-book Memoirs of Lady Trent series a couple years ago and loved it so I decided to check out what else she had written. This is what I found.
”Midnight Never Come” by Marie Brennan
Set in late 1500s London, this story is centered around the court of Queen Elizabeth and the faerie court below, ruled by Queen Invidiana. It follows Lady Lune, an elfin courtier of Queen Invidiana’s faerie court, and Michael Deven, a mortal courtier of Queen Elizabeth’s court, as they strive to gain royal favor. But when Invidiana’s tyrannical reign becomes a threat not just to her own people but to the mortals above, Lady Lune and Michael Deven discover they must work together to bring that reign to an end.
I have to say that I really enjoyed this book. I have a soft spot for fantasy elements being interwoven into real, historical events and this novel did just that. Also, faeries. And I don’t mean Tinkerbell people, I’m talking British fae: elves and brownies and goblins and giants. So cool.
The strongest part of this story is the puzzle. How did Invidiana come to power? She stole her throne from the multitude of faerie kings sometime in the distant past and has ruled ruthlessly ever since, but how? And how do you depose a queen who was able to do that? Let me just say, the ending was certainly not what I was expecting. At all.
Our main characters of Lady Lune and Michael Deven take a back seat to the plot as far as what drives the book along, but I wouldn’t say they’re just cardboard cutouts either. They each pursue the mystery from different paths, Lady Lune knowing the tyrant Invidiana is and hoping to end the oppression of the faerie court and Michael Deven seeking out the hidden player influencing and possibly manipulating Queen Elizabeth for their own ends. Both characters lack a certain amount of depth but I don’t feel like the story suffers too much, if at all.
I’d say if your interested in faeries, fantastical mysteries, or historical fantasy, you should give this book a go.