This second swashbuckling adventure follows privateer Ross Tremayne in the magical alternate history Rowankind series.
Britain, 1801. King George's episodic sanity is almost as damaging as his madness. First Consul Napoleon is gathering his forces in France. The disease of democracy is spreading. The world is poised on the brink of the modern era, but the rowankind, long a source of free labor, have shaken off their bonds.
Some have returned to laru to find freedom with the Fae; others are trying to find a place in the world, looking for fair treatment under the law. The course of the industrial revolution may change forever.
Wild magic is on the rise. Creatures of legend are returning to the world: kelpies, pixies, trolls, hobs, and goblins. Ross and Corwen, she a summoner witch and he a wolf shapechanger, have freed the rowankind from bondage, but now they are caught in the midst of the conflict, while trying their best to avoid the attention of the Mysterium, the government organization which would see them hanged for their magic.
When an urgent letter calls Corwen back to Yorkshire, he and Ross become embroiled in dark magic, family secrets, and industrial treachery. London beckons. There they discover a missing twin, an unexpected friend, and an old enemy—called Walsingham.
The second installment of the Rowankind historical fantasy series picks up after the events of 2014's Winterwood with privateer and witch Rossalinde Sumner now dwelling on land with her shape-shifter lover, Corwen, while magical creatures experience a resurgence after a centuries-long absence. Rossalinde and Corwen's retirement is interrupted when the Fae Lady of the Forests enlists their help to deal with a rogue kelpie; then Corwen is summoned home after the death of his older brother. Ross and Corwen juggle family drama, their own deepening relationship, and the ever-present threat of the government's anti-magic forces, the Mysterium, who have taken to imprisoning and exploiting the newly empowered rowankind. Bedford skillfully evokes both the society and the high seas of 1801 England as the story takes her heroes across the British Isles and into the realm of the Fae. She mixes action, intrigue, and romance in a satisfying fantasy-of-manners; Ross and Corwen make a formidable team as they fight monsters and zealots alike. This is a worthy continuation of the series.