In Mark Tompkins’ first novel, he pulls together history, folklore, and myth to explain the end of magic and magic’s last fight to remain in this world. Bookended with a story set in the modern day this novel tears off into an almost believable world of goddesses, faeries, Biblical beings, and witchcraft as the Roman church fights to destroy what magic is left in the world. The story follows Aisling, one of the manifestations of the Goddess Morrígana, as she learns to control her magic, what it means to be a part of the Goddess, and how to maintain her rule over the Sidhe (members of the middle kingdom) and our world.
There were many places where while the story is strong and compelling as a concept, the telling of it fell short as it often felt like telling, the prose felt almost forced around the story, and the language used to tell the story never seemed to match the fantastic realm that the story was reaching for. Admittedly there were moments when the language of the story took me out of this world that I so wanted to be a part of.
A pair of faerie lights added their glow to the clearing. Conor, wrapped in a borrowed cloak, and Aisling, assisted by several Sidhe, gently secured Tadg’s body to a horse.
“How did you know?” Bridged asked Rhoswen.
“Aisling must have distracted Semjaza from his concealment enchantment. An awareness of the fight bloomed in my mind,” replied Rhoswen.
“It was magnificent to watch. She brought forth the Morrigna said Brigid.
“Not fully,” said Rhoswen. “All of the Middle Kingdom would have sensed the return. If she could become whole, the demon would not have even tried to fight her.” Rhoswen watched as Conor embraced Aisling, her eyes glassy with tears. “Did she have the eye change?”
“Slightly,” said Brigid.
“Incredible. She is . . . gestating into a being of her own design.”
It was moments like these, where the words just didn’t live up to the magic that was being described, that pulled me from the story, and made me stop believing in the world of magic that only a few sentence prior had been so convincingly presented for me. These moments reminded me as a reader that I was reading,
Along with the poor execution of the prose there were too many almost intertwining plots in this story, I love books that have multiple plot lines and stories with different characters that begin to intertwine with each other, but this story would have been stronger if it had only followed the story from one side of the fight, or had been more successful in interweaving the multiple ways that the magic existed and was fought against.
Aisling, one of the human manifestations of Morrigana lost her other half, her twin, very early in the novel and parts of this story are focused on her ability to move on from that, grow stronger, continue to be a goddess without her other half. However this plot never felt like it progressed, Aisling never grew as a character, her ability to use her powers was continually dependent on the other people in the story to find her power. While this is a small issue I would have liked to see this woman, who is arguably the protagonist of the story, able to deal with her own loss of a sibling, of half her person, and grow from that, not stay stagnant and depended on others.
Recommendation: I bought this book and finished it all the way through because the history of myth fascinates me, and it pains me to say this, but I wouldn’t recommend this book. It is not well written, there are way too many sex scenes and all of them read like bad fanfiction, This book falls short of what it could be at every turn, both by having too much information, and not spending enough time turning this fantastic magical world into a believable place.