Publisher: Harper Voyager – released 28th June 2011
Review copy courtesy of Netgalley & Harper VoyagerMadeline MacFadden ("Mad Mac" to fans of her bestselling magical stories) spent blissful childhood summers in Ticonderoga Falls. And this is where she wants to be now that her adult life is falling apart. The dense surrounding forest holds many memories, some joyous, some tantalizingly only half-remembered. And she's always believed there was something living in these wooded hills. But Maddie doesn't remember the dark parts -- and knows nothing of the mountain legend that holds the area's terrified residents captive. She has no recollection of Ash, the strange and magnificent creature who once saved her life as a child, even though it is the destiny of his kind to prey upon humanity. And soon it will be the Harvest. . . the time to feast. Once again Maddie's dreams -- and her soul -- are in grave danger. But magic runs deep during Harvest. Even a spinner of enchanted tales has wondrous powers of her own.
The first thing that struck me about Feast was how melodic the prose is, it flows beautiful with descriptive passages and action all gorgeously rendered. It’s like sipping a dessert wine after a particularly satisfying meal. It feels timeless and reads like an ancient legend, while firmly set in the modern era. Each chapter is told in the first person but from multiple narrators which manages to make you emphasize for many of the characters and opens up the town of Ticonderoga Falls. Maddie, herself is a strong character who clearly loves her son and is hurting from her marriage break up. Ash is still guilt-ridden over a mistake from years before and struggling to connect again. They are surrounded by townsfolk who know more than they say.
The Darkling creatures that Merrie introduces us too are different from any preternatural creatures I’ve read about before with shades of shifter, vampire and fae but unique. I was never sure if they were good or evil or just different. The insight into these different creatures and their powers was a lovely change from angst-ridden vampire. Some of the secondary characters are a little wasted – I’m thinking of Ash’s sister and handmaiden particularly, but it’s a little like asking for additional bread with your dinner; not really necessary when the main characters are so filling.
There are still a lot of questions left unanswered – where the Darklings actually come from, how the legend and legend keeper actually works, but I found myself so caught up in the writing and the story that it didn’t bother me while I was reading. It’s great to see a different style of story being told rather than another Urban Fantasy rinse and repeat.
Recommended for fans of Ilona Andrews and Kate Griffin. 8 out of 10.
** Stop tomorrow when the author, herself Merrie Destefano will answering a few questions! **