Greek gods, faeries, Arthurian legends, the Trojan war, and the possible end of the world... all centering on a store-room in a small Colorado town. Carrie Vaughn shatters the urban fantasy mold in a BIG way. "Discord's Apple" is quite possibly her best book yet -- a brilliant, clever fantasy story that flips effortlessly through the centuries and across the world.
After finding out that her father is dying of cancer, Evie Walker returns to Hope Springs to care for him. Despite her best efforts, he doesn't seem to want to live. But she soon notices that weird things are happening -- a strange woman arrives and asks for a pair of glass slippers, and an old man requests a sword for "the lad." And then there's Alex, a strange immortal man who wants to die.
Just so you know, it's revealed pretty quickly that Alex was a friend of the legendary Odysseus who was enslaved and made immortal by the god Apollo. It's a pretty interesting backstory.
Evie soon realizes that the storeroom under her house is filled with mythical and magical items -- the golden fleece, the sword Excalibur, and quite a few other things. And unfortunately, the goddess Hera and her allies are determined to break into the Storeroom and take its power -- and if she succeeds, the world as we know it will end...
Carrie Vaughn has been around for some years with her werewolf-centric urban fantasies, and more recently with a book about dragons. But as far as I'm concerned, "Discord's Apple" is where she goes from being AN urban fantasy author to one of THE urban fantasy authors -- it takes her writing skills onto a whole new level.
Part of this is Vaughn's strong writing -- has a strong, smooth style with lots of vivid descriptions and some brilliant magical battles. She's as comfortable writing about modern-day Colorado as she is about Stonehenge or the fall of Troy, and she fleshes out Alex/Sinon's character along the way by giving glimpses of the cruel, luxurious life he led after Apollo enslaved him.
Another high point is that Vaughn just combines different myths SO WELL. The fairy godmother was a bit much, but her seamless intertwining of Greek myth, Arthurian legend and modern fantasy is simply breathtaking. And she weaves in some glimpses of past Walkers who guarded the Storeroom, giving a true feeling of historical depth to the story.
And Evie is a thoroughly likable heroine -- a no-nonsense graphic novelist whose entire worldview gets popped on its head when she discovers that myths and legends are (mostly) real. Alex comes across as a little nuts at times, but he has the right mixture of warmth, mystery and strength to make an excellent love interest. And there are countless striking side-characters -- Merlin, Odysseus, the cruel and beautiful Apollo, and Robin.
Carrie Vaughn has turned out some excellent fantasy in the past, but "Discord's Apple" is undoubtedly the best, richest book she's written yet. And I'm dying to see what her future books will be like.