(2010) Lee Carroll, Bantam Press, pbk, £7.99, 441pp, ISBN 978-0-553-82557-2
Black Swan Rising is an urban fantasy novel, the first book in a trilogy, set in present-day New York and centring on the story of Garet James, a jeweller who is beset by a number of problems: money problems, a crime at her fatherís art gallery; and she is haunted by the death of her mother.
One evening she is trying to get home after a meeting when she comes across a strange shop she has never seen before in a town she knows like the back of her hand. The owner, who seems to be aware of who she is, provides her with a challenge Ė to open a mysterious silver box. She manages to do so, and after that, strange things start to happen in her life and her surroundings.
She finds herself plunged into a world of faeries, the supernatural and finds out that her life is far from normal as she discovers who her mother was and what her heritage is. She also learns that she must find a way to stop what has escaped from the box, and along the way is guided and assisted by an array of characters. One of these is Will Hughes, a figure of mystery with a connection to Garetís past.
The story is well paced and starts off in normal present day New York, introducing Garet and the life she leads, then gradually introduces elements of the supernatural. Garetís past is revealed in a way that fits in well with the drama that is unfolding. The way supernatural elements influence what is happening in the city and descriptions of how the public Ė and people Garet knows Ė are influenced provides an intriguing backdrop for the story to unfold against. The crime that takes place at Garetís fatherís studio adds another element of intrigue.
The development of Garetís character is refreshing, too, as she holds her own whilst developing the personal defences she needs along her journey. It is also interesting to see how items that are referenced at the start, for example a signet that Garet has, are used throughout the story as their significance is elaborated upon.
I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in urban fantasy, although I would not be surprised if it appealed to a wider audience as it manages a balance between the supernatural and present day dramas.
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