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- Published on Amazon.com
I looked forward to reading this after being pleasantly surprised at 'Ill Met By Moonlight.' This book proved as entertaining, and maybe even a little more action packed than the first in what looks like is heading into a series.
Here, Faerie King Quicksilver accidently frees his evil brother, Sylvanus, who was banned from the fairy kingdom for having King Oberon and Queen Titania (Sylvanus and Quicksilver's parents) knocked off so he could assume the throne. He used the help of the Hunter, an ancient and mysterious power, to help him kill the king and queen, and now Sylvanus, having been captured, is forced to serve as one of the Hunter's hounds as his punishment. As 'Awake' gets under way, it's 10 years after 'Ill Met,' and now that Quicksilver has unwittingly set his evil brother free, now the Hunter is injured and a breach in fairy land has occurred. Now, plague is rampant, beginning at Stratford and spreading to London, where Sylvanus seeks death and destruction. Quicksilver doesn't want anyone to know, especially his wife, Queen Ariel, and he takes off to London to try to right his wrongs.
In the meantime, Shakespeare is in London trying to make it as a writer, but he's not doing too well. He's in debt, starving and basically ready to foot it back home in the country if he doesn't starve to death along the road back home. However, in steps Christopher Marlowe, who's enjoying patronship and success. Problem is, he's in hot water with the secret service, and they're badgering him more and more ruthlessly to name names in any conspiracy to off Queen Elizabeth. Marlowe sees a chance to implicate Shakespeare (the queen's men are always hungry for more), before Marlowe can make what he hopes will be a clean break from the intrigue and maybe take his illegitimate son, Imp, along with him, since Imp is the only thing Marlowe really cares about. If you're wondering, 'Hey, wasn't Marlowe gay?', well, Hoyt offers her own explanation, mainly that Marlowe had a fling with Quicksilver some years back. Quicksilver, incidentally, is a sort of gender shapeshifter, so Marlowe basically was enjoying the best of both worlds, so to speak.
Now Quicksilver arrives in London and is trying to set things straight with the help of Shakespeare. Will doesn't want any more connections with faerykind, though, as he's not happy he cheated on his wife in the first place with Quicksilver's feminine side, Silver. For a while the plot bumps back and forth between Shakespeare and Silver, Silver/Quicksilver and Marlowe, and Marlowe and Shakespeare, all of whom are trying to accomplish their own agendas, with the exception of Will, who basically wants to be a poet, earn an income and help his family out back in Stratford.
In the middle of this, Queen Ariel is basically pouting at home in faeryland, because she thinks Quicksilver has left her to find Shakespeare and resume the affair as Silver, two things he'd promised her he'd never do again. Every few chapters we see her miserable over her marriage and absent husband as faeryland unravels. She remains a passive character, no real development, and drags the story along. I read it and kept thinking, 'Stop whining!'
Eventually things tighten up storywise and the last 100 pages are the best in the book. Many can imagine roughly what happens, maybe just not exactly how, as they read this. It's fun and entertaining, but I had three other problems: One, Hoyt's not exactly clear enough for me on some of the magic principles of faeryland; two, the plot moved a bit too slowly the first two-thirds of the book; and three, her explanation for Shakespeare's gift kind of bothered me on some levels. Not necessarily a bad explanation, and it's sort of brave of her, but personally it rankled me a bit.
Don't get me wrong. I really enjoyed the book, and I'll probably read the third one (it seems more than likely to be forthcoming), but hopefully Ariel gets a spine and things speed up a bit.