The world of Erith, a strange, wild land filled with humans and fey creatures called wights, has its charms, but unfortunately a lack of underlying depth weakens this first novel from Australian Dart-Thornton. To Erith comes a poor unidentified soul who cannot speak and has lost all sense of self, including all memories of a past. This creature without a life has also become shunned by all after being horribly disfigured by an encounter with a poisonous plant. As the plot slowly, disjointedly spins out, the creature acquires a name Imrhien and a new identity as a girl. Her story is full of little adventures and unrelated incidents, but the author provides almost no foreshadowing or any real idea why Imrhien has lost her voice and her looks. The girl's travels, which carry her from one end of Erith to the other, include encounters with wights, which can be ""seelie"" (mostly not harmful) and ""unseelie"" (evil), and with Sianadh, a friendly man who gives her not only her name but the chance to seek pirate treasure. Later Imrhien and Sianadh's niece try to find Maeve One-Eye, a carlin who might help her recover her memory. Nasty folk try to thwart her, but their motives are never explained. Hopefully future installments will supply more background, but this initial volume makes a decidedly shallow start. (May 23) Forecast: With a blurb from Andre Norton likening this book to Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring, as well as a plug from Elizabeth Hand, this novel may attract a lot of initial attention, but the sequel is going to have to be stronger to sustain interest.
Reviewed on: 05/01/2001 Release date: 05/01/2001
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