Genre: Fantasy Age Range: YA Star Rating: 5 stars Series: yes - final book of trilogy
In a darkening city of dreams, can the light return? For Londoner Fern King, Annwn is her second home – the dream mirror of London, the city she loves. An astonishing world, a world where Dreamers walk in their slumber, their dreams playing out all around them. And Fern, along with her twin brother Ollie, is a Knight, a trusted guardian and protector of those Dreamers – and every night is spent in Annwn, fulfilling that previously only-imagined destiny to guard those who sleep.
But Fern is struggling since the loss of her extraordinary powers – and her nemesis Medraut, who seeks to control and to ruin Annwn is gaining ever more control. Annwn is a dangerous place to be for the Knights, with Dreamers recruited to be Medraut’s personal army, the Knights’ stronghold Tintagel starting to crumble and the last of the Fay slowly being lost. Fern, and the Knights’, only hope is to retrieve Excalibur, and find the Grail – but will Fern find herself equal to this, and can she save the world she loves and see hope, imagination and wonder restored to Annwn?
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This is how you finish a trilogy that has a reputation for brutality to its characters. In a series where no one is safe, you have to follow through and deliver on that all the way to the end, making the victory cost so much it doesn’t entirely feel like a victory, and Holly Race does that.
The whole book is brutal in a terrifying way that feels too real as you see the effect of Mordraut in government. It’s not just Anwnn that’s breaking apart and dangerous, but Ithr (our world too.) And every time it feels like either world is broken beyond repair and it cannot get worse, Holly adds another layer of devastation.
Ollie and Fern’s relationship also goes through more of the thicket of brambles surrounding them. The fact that Ollie has their Immral (special powers) and Fern doesn’t adds more complications to work through, both together and personally. Not to mention the tangle of their love lives, particularly Ollie’s. Their relationship with their parents (alive dad, dead mum) also gets all the more complicated in this book, as well as with the sort of parental figures. Some relationships are resolved in the book, but not all of them. That messy not-really-ended/resolved feels so much more realistic than if they’d just been all neatly tied off with bows.
I have loved this series’ incredibly inventive take on Arthuriana – all these well known elements (Arthur, the round table, Merlin, Excalibur, the grail, etc) taken and used in such a new way. You recognise them (and there are also a lot of little Easter eggs like Una Gorlois), but you can’t really anticipate how they’re going to be used.
In all, it’s a very satisfying trilogy ender that pays off the tone and expectations of the previous entries.
Read my reviews of other books by Holly Race:
Midnight’s Twins (this series):