By October 10, 2012 0 Comments Read More →

Have Mercy: Miserere, by Theresa Frohock

I’m always excited to introduce new fantasy authors to book groups when they produce works that can sustain a discussion, and Theresa Frohock’s debut Miserere: an Autumn Tale is just such a novel.

The story opens with Lucian Negru acting on an impulse to escape his demon-corrupted sister’s control. Lucian saved Catarina from Hell because of a promise given to a dying parent, leaving his lover Rachael to her own devices in the process. This made him anathema to the Katharoi, his former allies. Unfortunately, Catarina had already sold her soul to the demon Mastema and tried to commit Lucian to them as well. Ever since, Lucian has been trapped by Catarina and the demon Cerberus.

The action occurs on Woerld, a dimension set between Hell and Earth. In Woerld, there are many fortresses corresponding to major religions, but all are united in defending Earth and Heaven from the Fallen, the hosts of demons who would like to invade through Woerld. The fortresses are defended by Katharoi, men and women with special powers drawn through the Veil from Earth who use their various magics to battle the demons. When they work together, they are adequate protection, but the demons are good at sowing seeds of discord between the religions. In the past, they convinced the Zoroastrians to separate themselves, then destroyed them. It’s into the Wasteland left of the former Zoroastrian lands that Lucian flees. There he discovers Lindsay, a girl just pulled with her brother through the Veil. She’s chased by demons and bewildered, but if Lucian saves her, he’ll announce his location to both his sister’s forces and the former allies of the Christian fortress who would like to bring him back and try him.

Meanwhile, Rachael escaped Hell, but with a demon Wyrm embedded in her that threatens more with every day to take over her consciousness completely. When Lucian pulls Lindsay back from the edge of disaster by opening Hell Gates to reach her and save her, Rachael is sent by their Seraph, John to retrieve Lucian to stand trial, even though their Christian fortress is riddled with spies and beset by enemies. Lucian and Lindsay are trapped between two sides: his sister’s soldiers and demons and the angry former lover and allies. He’s crippled and emotionally damaged, she’s bewildered by her new world and fearful for her brother, but together, they’ve got to run a gauntlet to get to a doubtful future.

The “Woerld”-building should generate plenty of discussion, as will questions of where loyalties lie when people are subject to extreme circumstances and rock-and-a-hard-place decisions. Unlike many fantasies with epic structure and big emotions, this is not a big book, coming in at under 300 pages, which also helps make it a great option for your group. In the process, you’ll discover an exciting new author of dark, romantic, yet substantial fantasy fiction.

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About the Author:

Neil Hollands is an Adult Services Librarian at Williamsburg Regional Library in Virginia, where he specializes in readers’ advisory and collection development. He is the author of Read On . . . Fantasy Fiction (2007) and Fellowship in a Ring: a Guide for Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Groups (2009).

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