cover image The Hidden Ones

The Hidden Ones

dave ring. Queer Space, $15.95 trade paper (116p) ISBN 978-1-60864-176-5

Ring (Glitter & Ashes, editor) delivers a jam-packed debut novella centered on the tuath, a fairy-like, otherworldly presence in modern Ireland. The union of Baird mac Macha and Tadgh mac Muir brought peace to their warring magical factions, but after centuries together their relationship is strained. Baird fritters away his family’s money in Dublin with his friend Kandace while Tadgh waits at home. Baird is sucked back into tuath politics, however, when he realizes that something is thinning out the saol, a communal life force that all Machas can sense. He visits his estranged father, Cern, the last worshipper of the hungry goddess Ethliu, but the trip raises more questions than answers, unlocking painful memories of Baird’s childhood and putting a terrifying enemy on his trail. Now Baird, Tadgh, and Kandace must work together to combat this threat. Ring’s worldbuilding throws readers in the deep end, leaving them to sink or swim with minimal exposition. The result is disorienting but creates a genuine sense of otherness to the tuath world. Meanwhile, Baird and Tadgh’s relationship is fascinating, but wars with the action for the reader’s attention, giving both short shrift. Still, a magnetic narrator, playful turns of phrase (“I tried to look daggers at her but likely only managed spoons”), and a rich magic system make this worthwhile. (Nov.)