Saturday, June 9, 2012
Ring of Lost Souls, Rachel Tsoumbakos
In 'The Ring of Lost Souls' by Aussie author Rachel Tsoumbakos, we are asked to consider, 'What if Fairy Tales were real?" Well, I think you know reading that line in the book-blurb intrigued me from the get-go! And joy of all joys - this book more than met my high expectations! The story is set in the real location of Larundel Asylum but that is where the reality ends. I warn you, there is more of horror than of fairies in this tale. But then, true fairies never were the way Disney portrays them until only the last century, so maybe there is a great deal of Faerie. They were thought to be capricious and cruel, and certainly not good to be involved with!
Long ago a human beautiful woman Eithne became involved with Finnbheara, the King of the Fairies. Unfortunately, Finn was married to Una, who took exception to the whole thing. Eithne was also a witch, and she made a magic potion which was to keep Una asleep for 100 years, but which had only worked for a season. Somehow the magic potion linked Eithne and Una, and gave Una a conscience, which turned out to be bad for Finn.
When Eithne discovered that Finn was also the King of the Dead and sacrificed humans on Halloween, she had been disgusted, but still she hung on to him. Eithne is forced by circumstances to marry a human King, Amairgin. He conspires with Una to force Eithne to magically banish Finnbheara from Ireland to 'the ends of the earth, a place not yet discovered or conquered'. This act has the unforeseen consequence of binding the four of them for eternity, in a complex cycle of rebirth.
The 'ends of the earth' turns out to be Australia. Living in Melbourne, Isobel is recently divorced and has also recently lost her job. She takes up running as a hobby, and frequently finds herself passing by the ruins of an abandoned mental asylum, Larundel. One day she finds a simple gold wedding band on the grounds, and puts it on. Strange events begin happening, some things which call Isobel's sanity into question.
A ghostly 'bird-lady' named Maisy, urges her to 'kill them all'. When Isobel asks who she should kill, Maisy replies 'the lost souls.' Things go downhill from there.
This tale winds though modern pop-culture and the events of her past-lives which involve Larundel. Isobel struggles to to discover who Maisy was and what ties them together. All the while she is struggling with this mystery, Finn and Maisy watch her, as ghostly entities.
Friends do not always have her best interests in mind, and what she has always believed of herself is proven to be a myth.
This story has more twists and turns than a country road. Just when you think you know what is going on, you find you were off track. The ending is unexpected and I highly recommend this tale to everyone who likes a good paranormal fantasy.
I enjoyed Rachel Tsoumbakos' first book, Emeline and the Mutants, an off-beat take on vampires, zombies and the cure for HIV. Both books are available for Kindle at amazon.com.