I’ve been reading the PROSPERO’S DAUGHTER (Prospero Lost: Prospero’s Daughter, Book I (Tor Fantasy)) trilogy by L. Jagi Lamplighter. I am only halfway through the second volume, but I can say that these are really excellent books and I recommend them completely and without reservation.
I have to admit, the books are not all what I expected. For some reason, I had it in my head that they would be sort of ethereal and bloodless – a woman wasting away in a loveless arranged marriage while pining for the Elf King, that sort of thing. I am pleased to report that I was quite completely wrong. Instead, PROSPERO’S DAUGHTER is a combination between a detective novel and Warhammer 40k.
The premise is that the magician Prospero (from the Shakespeare play) made the modern world possible by forcing the supernatural world into various constraining pacts. For instance, electricity only works because Prospero bound the spirits of the air into behaving a certain way, and internal combustion engines only function because Prospero bound the spirits of fire into burning at a certain rate. For five hundred years Prospero has kept this up, ably aided by his daughter Miranda.
However, Prospero has now disappeared without a trace, leaving behind only a cryptic message that the “Three Shadowed Ones” are hunting his children and their magical staffs. Without Prospero, the pacts binding the supernatural world will quickly fall apart, and civilization will collapse into supernatural chaos. So it’s up to Miranda to find her father, fend off the “Three Shadowed Ones”, and figure out what’s really going on.
Miranda is also an excellent example of an unreliable narrator. Unreliable narrators are often the tools of lazy authors, but that’s not the case here. The books are layered like an onion, with another always deeper, and Miranda goes deeper down the rabbit hole with the reader. They’re also exceptionally well-constructed – the downside to being a writer is that it’s harder to read for pleasure, since you’re always analyzing another writer’s work. The upside is that when you read a really good book, you can appreciate it on two levels – as a reader, and as a writer admiring the craftsmanship.
To sum up in one sentence, I’d say PROSPERO’S DAUGHTER is sort of like AMERICAN GODS, but without the nihilistic edge and the fixation with weird sex. Go forth and read it now.