In this first volume of Wilkins' Europa Suite, a woman's world is turned upside down when her childhood friend, abducted as a young girl into a place of magic and myth, rerturns. But now jealousies and betrayals threaten to destroy them both.
Wilkins, a star in her native Australia, strikes a tantalizing balance between pastoral and grotesque in her American fantasy debut. Christine Starlight lives in an artist's collective in Berlin with her lover, Jude, and their companions. She is haunted by two memories from childhood: the gruesome death of her parents and the abduction of her best friend, May. May, it turns out, was not abducted, but was lost by her mother in a bargain with a faery; in the enchanted world May now calls home and which now calls her Mayfridh she is the queen. Circumstances bring the two worlds together, and when Mayfridh crosses over and reunites with Christine, she also falls in love with Jude. Jude, though, carries with him a whopper of a secret, which Wilkins manages to conceal nicely. Meanwhile, Mandy Z., a madman who has hated faeries since childhood and who happens to own the building in which Christine and Jude live, is hard at work on a "Bone Wife," made from the bones of the faeries he has murdered. The brutal scenes involving Mandy Z. provide a sharp contrast to the gentle, often touching story of Christine and her inner battles. The well-executed conclusion ends this fascinating adventure on a high note.