cover image Beyond World's End

Beyond World's End

Mercedes Lackey, Rosemary Edghill. Baen Books, $24 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-671-31955-7

A human bard returns to the mortal world to find himself battling both elven and human demons in this entertaining entry in Lackey's Urban Faerie series. In this sequel to Bedlam's Bard, Eric Banyon moves to New York to finish his Julliard studies as a flautist, only to find that his apartment building is a safe house for the city's magical Guardians. Together with his Guardian neighbors, his friends Beth and Kory from the previous book, and his erstwhile flame, Ria Llewellyn, Banyon uncovers both a plot to open a nexus to the elven world, Underhill, in the middle of Manhattan and a group of scientists' scheme to use psychotropic drugs to uncover magical powers in normal people. Both the scientists and Aerune, the dark prince, hope to harness the drug-induced abilities of New York's street people to build their own power--until Banyon and his friends intervene. Continual references to contemporary New York life help contextualize and anchor a story that might otherwise wobble on its fantastical underpinnings. While the main characters verge on predictability, quick, vivid portraits of side characters are much more interesting. Readers will want to have read Bedlam's Bard for the back story of Lackey and Edghill's faerie world's complex geography and social structure. Even on its own merits, however, this novel's accessible blend of the urban and the whimsical will appeal to those who wonder whether the phantasmagoric walk city streets. (Jan.)