No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Saturday, October 01, 1994

Faery in Shadow -- C. J. Cherryh

This is a world where the Sidhe walk; a dark, fantastic Celtic land through which Caith and his dark companion Dubhain hunt, and are hunted, through tangled wet woods at night. A Beast from the dark loch follows their trail with a sound of rattling bones, and rabbit skulls are nibbled to the bone in an instant by invisible teeth.

Caith’s grim and shadowy past has left him labouring under a geas, a Necessity, which is not clearly stated but which he curses at every twist of fate. He doesn’t understand the machinations of the Sidhe, or of the witch in her castle at the head of the loch. Nothing of Faery is ever quite what it seems; but there is a perverse logic, and even honour, to the game they are playing with Caith, their mortal pawn, although there is little of humanity about them.

Faery in Shadow partakes as much of horror as of fantasy; the sense of Celtic nightmare is well-sustained by Cherryh’s occasionally unsubtle use of dialect and archaism, and the understated terror of old, malevolent powers lurking in the shadows and streams of a land that, for all its daytime beauty, is dark and threatening.