Posted on December 10, 2007 by alanajoli
Written by Tiffany Trent
The first in a series of ten novels for Mirrorstone, the young adult imprint of Wizards of the Coast, In the Serpent’s Coils launches readers straight into the larger story. Corrine’s father disappeared during the Civil War, and her mother died while she had the swamp fever. She finds herself alone in the world except for an uncle who would rather not be responsible for her wellfare. Until, that is, she discovers people living in the hawthorn tree who promise to cure her in exchange for a small stone. That first bargain with the Fay, along with letters revealing a forbidden relationship between a medieval priest and the world, draw Corrine into a plot to help the Fay prince recover his kingdom and face off against the witches who run her boarding school. But is she trusting the right people? Like Corrine herself, the reader is kept in suspense about who the villains are until the end of the book, and even then good and evil are ambiguous.
Trent’s prose is compelling, and her depiction of post-Civil War Virginia detailed enough to place modern readers in the settng. Though occasionally some of the action moves so fast it’s hard to keep up (a few times I had to go back and read paragraphs to make sure I knew how characters got from one situation into another), overall the story is incredibly tight, bringing ghosts, voodoo, witchcraft, dark Fay into the real world in a believable and deliciously creepy fashion. The story ends on a cliff-hanger, and I expect that each of the books in the series will lead straight into the next. Luckily Corrine’s quest has every sign of continuing to engage the readers across ten books, as the battle ground and the sides representing right and wrong are mysterious enough to keep us guessing.
Though certainly more urban fantasy than horror, and definitely delving into issues important to teenage girls (who are the target market), the story is strong enough to draw in a much wider audience. The second book, By Venom’s Sweet Sting, comes out in December, and it will be a long couple of months of waiting until I can find out what happens next.
Reviewer: Alana Abbott