This is not the fault of the author, but my enjoyment of this book was marred by one thing - I kept wondering what it would have been like if written by another author.
This book is a fantasy set in
Elizabethan England. It is about the Fae and their interactions with
humans. Kit Marlowe is a minor character.
Elizabeth Bear, who I
love, has written a book I have not yet read (although I've read another
in the series) set in Elizabethan England. It is about the Fae and
their interactions with humans. Kit Marlowe is the main character.
And so, although The Silver Skull
isn't bad, I kept wondering what Elizabeth Bear's take on these common
elements would be, fairly confident that it would be better. Because
this is okay, but not great.
Will Swyfte, England's famed
greatest spy ever, works for Walsingham, and he, and the others in
Walsingham's employ, know the secret - the greatest foe facing
Elizabethan England is not the Spanish, but the horrific ravages of the
Unseelie Court, who have been preying on humans for millennia. Except
that John Dee was able to recently erect some defenses in England that
stopped them from...wait, what did it stop them from?
seriously. Dee theoretically erected defenses against the Fae that they
are mightily pissed off about, but we don't actually see their
activities hampered. They still wreak horrible magical trickery on
people. They kidnap someone out of a royal residence.
was that defense anyway? How does it work? I hadn't realized it until I
was writing right now, but that's kind of a major plot hole.
any rate. England is now "defended" and the Unseelie want to crush it
under their heel, so they're manipulating Philip of Spain to attack with
a mighty weapon they liberate from the Tower of London.
are so devastatingly evil that the awareness of their existence and few
words in the ear of anyone who didn't know about them are enough to
drive humans to suicide. This is interesting, that humans are shown as
so frail, but I didn't entirely buy it. At very least, we need to hear
what evil things they say once, so that I'm convinced it was enough for a
single sentence to cause utter despair. 'Cause, you know, we're kind of
hardy stock when we need to be. You have to convince me that finding
out there's a powerful malevolent force out there would be enough to
kill people. I wasn't.
So, Swyfte goes to Spain, tries to free the sister of the woman he loved, tries to keep people from finding out about the fae.
it just doesn't add up to as much as I would like. The plotting isn't
that tight, I was never heavily invested in the characters, it didn't go
into the depths I hoped it might. It was a fine fun read, but nothing
to write home about. It wasn't the book I hoped it might be.
Which reminds me, I really should read that Elizabeth Bear book.