If you are unfamiliar with the Four Branches of the Mabinogi, The Talmud avli (Babylonian Talmud), The Book of Numbers, The Affair of the Diamond Necklace, St. Thomas the Apostle and Greek mythology, don't worry, T.A. Moore is. This book is a grand collision of almost every branch of mythology and legend that exists, taking stories both very old and relatively new and giving what Paul Harvey called `The Rest of the Story'.
One of the things that I miss in this age of the seven hundred page novel is the art of the unsaid. Give a writer unlimited ink and they will use it, most of them poorly. Sometimes I think that writers try too hard to justify their world building by proving that the oddity that they are parading in front of you could possibly exist
Andre Norton was supreme at leaving things unsaid, the Forerunners always made me uneasy, not because of what I knew about them but because of what I didn't, and what's left unsaid is always more sinister.
Which brings me to Even City.
Jonothan Harker could have just as easily been speaking of Even City when, on his way to meet Count Dracula he wrote in his journal.
"I read that every known superstition in the world is gathered into the horseshoe of the Carpathians, as if it were the center of some sort of imaginative whirlpool; if so my stay may be very interesting."
The Even (as it's called) could easily have taken over this book, run roughshod over the other characters. It's that kind of place. It has a power and potency of its own and I'm sure that other authors could have doubled the page count exploring the back alleys and shifting streets. But Moore has a firm grip on the unsaid, and a tight leash on the Even. Instead of kicking every door down and shoving us inside, we get glimpses through cracked doors and grimy windows, just enough to tantalize but never too much to distract us from Blodeuwedd's plight. The characters that move within it toss off quips that they feel no need to explain and since they live there and already know, why should they.
What's left unsaid is always more sinister, and in the case of Even City, much, much more.
And then there is Blodeuwedd herself. Where the Mabinogion leaves off, Moore picks up and regardless of what Lady Guest and all that came after her have put down on paper, this is a three dimensional Blodeuwedd unlike any other, and one with facets that I am still finding. If the plot is simple (Blodeuwedd has a problem, Blodeuwedd needs to fix the problem or die), then its execution is wonderfully complicated. Blodeuwedd is a microcosm of Even City, and like the city there are so many things about her that go unsaid, unexplained. No matter how hard you try, how crafty you think you are, the Blodeuwedd you think will be on the next page rarely is. And yet it all makes sense, she is so wonderfully crafted by both Math and Moore that despite all she has done, I completely understand why Llew does as he does.
So here I will end it, keeping my own leash on the unsaid. It would be too easy to spoil a story like this by telling what isn't there as much as by giving too much of the story away. If you have come this far for my recommendation, then you have it. Read this book it is worth five stars!