Author: C.E. Murphy
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group http://www.randomhouse.com/book/118852/wayfinder-by-ce-murphy
Imprint: Del Rey
Pub Date: 09/06/2011
Category: Adult fantasy but suitable for older young adults.
Wayfinder is a unique and engaging story set in a vibrant world and brought to life through evocative writing. I particularly loved the imagery.
Lara Jansen is a truthseeker, gifted-or cursed-with the magical ability to tell honesty from lies. Once she was a tailor in Boston, but now she has crossed from Earth to the Barrow-lands, a Faerie world embroiled in a bloody civil war between Seelie and Unseelie. Armed with an enchanted and malevolent staff which seeks to bend her to its dark will, and thrust into a deadly realm where it’s hard to distinguish friend from foe, Lara is sure of one thing: her love for Dafydd apCaerwyn, the Faerie prince who sought her help in solving a royal murder and dousing the flames of war before they consumed the Barrow-lands.
But now Dafydd is missing, perhaps dead, and the Barrow-lands are closer than ever to a final conflagration. Lara has no other choice: she must harness the potent but perilous magic of the staff and her own truthseeking talents, blazing a path to a long-forgotten truth-a truth with the power to save the Barrow-lands or destroy them.
Lara’s truth seeking abilities manifest through music. Each thing someone says has an accompanying symphony, discordant if it’s a lie, harmonious if it’s the truth and shades in between for half truths. The descriptions of these perceptions are beautiful and give a real sense of the nature of Lara’s magic. The idea of magic in sound is extended to the power of Laras words, especially those of prayer to her own God, a wonderful concept well portrayed.
The staff is dangerously powerful, wreathed in mystery, and its relationship to Lara is complex. It constant presence is a thread running through the story and eventually ties it up in an unexpected way.
Lara is an easy character to like and relate to. She’s smart, determined and courageous, and the fey are, well fey; you’re never quite sure if you can trust them. Dafydd is an interesting character, his speech modern due to decades in the human realm spent searching for a truth seeker but still clearly fey.
The story is unpredictable and highly imaginative. At one point Lara and her companions go under the water to a drowned city, but due to lifesaving magic, she is able to breathe as she wanders through the ruins, facing trials of ghosts, deadly hybrid creatures and difficult choices. Her ability to find true paths and then manifest them physically emerges when she needs an escape route and must rely on her own abilities or face certain death.
This is the second in a series of two and though I haven’t read the first one, it didn’t matter in the least. I would recommend that you read it first though just to get longer to immerse yourself in this wonderful world. I give it 5 stars and recommend it to anyone who loves powerful fey stories.