The Sword of Maiden’s Tears: Pamela Dean meets a slasher movie

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsbook review Rosemary Edghill The Sword of Maiden's Tears Twelve TreasuresThe Sword of Maiden’s Tears by Rosemary Edghill

I’ve become a bit of a Rosemary Edghill fan lately, so I opened the cover of this foray into urban fantasy with anticipation. It takes place in New York in the eighties (take note of the clothing styles for a nostalgic chuckle). Thrust into the teeming streets of New York City is elfin lord Melior — and of course, as an out-of-towner, he gets mugged almost instantly. The mugger steals his magic sword and leaves him bruised and shaken. Melior is taken in by a young grad student, Ruth, and gets to know her and her circle of friends.

This circle of friends is the best part of the book. Ruth, Philip, Jane, Naomi, and Michael are all intelligent misfits, drawn together by the feeling that they don’t fit in anywhere else, and sharing a tight but often uneasy bond. The unofficial “den mother” of the bunch is Naomi; the group spends most of their time at Naomi’s apartment, eating Naomi’s cooking, and quoting dead poets. In a way, they’re a lot like the dorm gang of Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin — except with more angst. For several of the friends are hiding secrets and emotional wounds.

Melior’s addition to the group changes everything; the friends fight over whether to help him find the sword, and whether he’s really an elf. But if he’s an elf — and not a loony or a con artist — they’d better find the sword soon. It is cursed. Any human who touches it will turn into a cannibalistic monster obsessed with two things: eating people, and hanging on to the sword. And the monster can only be killed by — you guessed it — the selfsame sword. New York is in trouble.

Unfortunately, the main plot of this book is a little too “slasher movie” for my taste. It isn’t bad, but it’s violent and sort of simplistic. I almost felt like the interesting characters were wasted on a plot that’s mostly “run around New York trying to find this thing without getting killed”. I would have liked a more complex plot, not to mention a better-developed romantic subplot. Melior and Ruth meet. BAM! Love. That’s about it. I am looking forward to further characterization and character development in the second book, The Cup of Morning Shadows.

Twelve Treasures — (1994-1997) Publisher: Stumbling across a mugging victim in New York City who turns out to be a being from the world of Elphame, student librarian Ruth Marlowe and her friends learn that the muggers stole a magical sword that changes mortals into grendel-like monsters.

Twelve Treasures Rosemary Edghill review 1. The Sword of Maiden's Tears 2. The Cup of Morning Shadows 3. The Cloak of Night and DaggersTwelve Treasures Rosemary Edghill review 1. The Sword of Maiden's Tears 2. The Cup of Morning Shadows 3. The Cloak of Night and DaggersTwelve Treasures Rosemary Edghill review 1. The Sword of Maiden's Tears 2. The Cup of Morning Shadows 3. The Cloak of Night and Daggers


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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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