With her fair share of problems – money (lack of), an elderly father, a struggling business – Garet should be just like any other young, feisty, single New Yorker. If only it was that simple…
It begins with the old silver box that had been soldered shut. All Garet has to do is open it. A favour for the frail owner of the antiques shop. Who wouldn’t help?
Only it’s then that things start to change. Garet doesn’t notice at first, the shifts barely perceptible. But the city in which she grew up is beginning to reveal a long-hidden side – darker, and altogether more dangerous: parallel world of chaos, smoke and blood.
And now it’s out of the box…and it has no intention of going back in.
Lee Carroll is a pseudonym for husband and wife writing team, Carol Goodman and Lee Slonimsky. Carol is a novelist and Lee a poet and they certainly put their combined skills to good use in Black Swan Rising. I loved the use of language in this book and in parts I found that the descriptions were wonderfully poetic, adding to the sense of magic in the story. Black Swan Rising is the first part of a new urban fantasy trilogy and the first urban fantasy novel that I’ve read that isn’t aimed specifically at the young adult market. That’s not to say that young adult readers won’t enjoy this book but there are some parts that might not be suitable for younger readers.
The focus of the story is 26 year old Garet (short for Margaret) James, a Jeweler living in New York. The action begins straight away as a storm forces Garet to seek refuge in an antiques shop. The owner of the shop recognises a crest on a necklace that Garet is wearing and gives her a silver box bearing the same crest, that has been soldered shut. He asks Garet to use her skills as a jeweler to open the box and return it to him. Garet does as he requests and sets off a chain of events that she could never have imagined would happen.
You definitely need to suspend belief to read this book; it features a myriad of fantastic creatures including fairies, dragons and a vampire and has a wonderfully detailed mythology behind it which I really enjoyed. I also liked the way that despite the fantasy element, the story was strongly grounded in the everyday and familiar, with references to well known landmarks in New York, everyday objects and recent events that have been in the news. As Garet finds out more about her ancestors and learns her true destiny, history (both her own and events in the wider world) is given a completely new and very interesting perspective. I really liked the idea that there is another world existing in parallel to ours which humans cannot see – I certainly won’t look at New York in the same way again if I ever go back!
There are many threads running through the story and a lot of characters to get to grips with. At times I felt like I wanted more information on some of the key characters, but as this is the first in a trilogy, I suspect more detail will be revealed as the series progresses and it certainly left me wanting to find out more. I think the story will appeal to a lot of readers as there is mystery as Garet begins to uncover past secrets, paranormal romance as she finds herself drawn to Will Hughes and elements of horror as well as the fantasy side and sub plots surrounding Garet’s fathers debt and a robbery at the gallery he owns and her friends Jay and Becky and their band.
This is a great debut from Lee Carroll and I’m eagerly anticipating the next installment. If like me, you are new to the urban fantasy genre, I’d recommend Black Swan Rising as an excellent place to start.
I’d like to thank Transworld Publishers for sending me a copy of this book for review.
You can find out more about Lee Carroll and Black Swan Rising at: http://www.carolgoodman.com/default.asp