A. M. Dellamonica
Tor, 2009 (2009)
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
. M. Dellamonica recounts her rather dark urban fantasy,
, through flashbacks that show readers how the seemingly ordinary young Astrid ended up imprisoned in a secret underground military base, being interrogated on what she dubs '
' by psychologist Will Forest, as the world suffers a '
collective nervous breakdown
eaders wonder how did it come to this? Who is the shape-changing demi-goddess named Patience, who can walk through walls and is protective of the prisoner? And how did Astrid's egoistic childhood friend and ex-lover Sahara '
create an eco-terrorist cult with half a million devoted followers
t all begins when Astrid's father - perceived by the townsfolk as their
- dies and leaves her his house in small town Indigo Springs. Astrid's artistic stepbrother Jacks (an ex-fireman) moves in with her. Then Sahara breaks up with her cheating boyfriend Mark in Boston and needs a place to stay - she takes Mark's cat and car and drives west to join them.
strid starts finding
in the house, objects that look like junk but work magic, such as guaranteeing good luck or influence over others. Foolishly, Astrid shares this new knowledge with Jacks and Sahara. Then they find a source of
that retreated from the world's Inquisitions) in the house and both Astrid and Sahara are
ahara grows steadily greedier for power, while Astrid, who learns that she is the only one who can create new
, tries to undo the damage she has inadvertently done and to cure her mother's madness. She also begins to recover memories of her father, who was not what he seemed on the surface, and of the witch-burners who hunt and kill
s Astrid recovers from shock and recounts her story, readers learn what led to a stand-off with authorities, the release of magic into the world, and the break between Astrid and Sahara. As this episode ends, Astrid assumes her power '
in the heart of an alchemical apocalypse
', leaving readers anxious for more in the upcoming
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