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Duainfey by Steve Miller and Sharon Lee

01/05/2009. Contributed by Kelly Jensen

Buy Duainfey in the USA - or Buy Duainfey in the UK

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pub: Baen. 496 pages paperback. Price: $ 7.99 (US). ISBN 1416591672.

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In 'Duainfey', a book that reads very much like 'Masterpiece Theatre', we learn the story of disgraced and lame Rebecca Beauvelley. Her withered arm a stark reminder of youthful folly that ruined her reputation and alienated her from her family. Rebecca's only solace is her few friends and skill with plants and herbs, one for which the story is named, Duainfey.

She faces marriage to a much older gentleman, an arrangement that appears to be her salvation even though the harsh climate of his home would be detrimental both to her fragile health and the more delicate herbs she relies upon.

Altimere, a dashing fey from across the mysterious Keleigh, the barrier that separates his world from hers, uses his magic to show Becca an alternative future to the one she dreads and elopes with him back across the barrier to his home among the fey.

While maintaining the language and demeanour of costume drama, the story heads into more risqué and dark territory as the novel progresses and we learn more about Altimere, who seemed at first to be Becca's salvation. In retrospect, he represents only the second of many possible choices she could have made. He leads Becca down a path of dark desires awakening her innate magic and sexuality at the same time. The sex is written obliquely and later, it is integral to the plot but not written as to overshadow the storytelling.

The beginning of the novel is told exclusively from Becca's point of view and this starts to feel a little 'blinkered', especially given her naiveté. However, we are soon given an alternate story to follow, happening concurrently with Becca's, that of Meripen Longeye. A woodwise fey named for his famous long-seeing eye, Longeye's powers are connected with communicating and helping the primordial forests on his side of the Keleigh. He is weak, though, and his magic has been seriously compromised by an encounter with the humans across this barrier.

He was tortured horribly and lost his love before he could return home where he has slept for thousands of nights in recovery. Upon awakening, he is charged with the task of investigating trees that no longer respond to the woodwise, trees that are under the care of a group of humans whom he fears and distrusts.

Longeye's sister, a loyal subject of the fey queen, abducts Becca from Altimere's care and 'Duainfey' ends with the reader not sure if this is good news...or bad.

Kelly Jensen

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