Arrow of the Mist by Christina Mercer
Heading to Northern New York always means a few days of pretty much doing nothing but reading, and the last four days did not disappoint. I loaded my tablet up with several advanced reading copies from Netgalley and hit the road on July 3. The first ARC on my list was this lovely little book from Christina Mercer. I don’t read a lot of fantasy anymore, so I am always pleasantly surprised when I find a new book that pays some homage to classic fantasy, but has enough originality to hold my interest.
Arrow of the Mist introduces us to Lia, daughter of Carin and Dylan, a young herbalist determined to keep the old crafts of potion mixing and magic alive. She is well-taught by her Granda, who in turn learned from Lia’s magical Grandma Myrna. Lia lives in Rockberg, a village bordered by a mysterious, fog-bound land called Brume. She tends a beautiful garden planted in a labyrinth pattern around a huge crystal rock formation. Lia and her Granda are suddenly faced with finding a cure for a terrible illness that is striking down the men of the village, including Lia’s father. Lia and Granda are convinced the only cure lies within the land of Brume, and, accompanied by Lia’s cousin Wynn and his friend Kelven, they embark on what becomes a life-changing experience for all of them.
As soon as Lia enters Brume, she knows something has changed. She alone can hear the whispers of the shades that guard the fog. While in Brume, Lia and Wynn come to understand that they are descendants of royalty and it is their responsibility to bring magic back to their world. As Granda is stricken with the same poison attacking their home, Lia and Wynn embark on an adventurous quest to find the 13 ingredients needed to brew the curative potion. Along the way, they meet dwarves, unicorns, enchanted trees, and the master of the evil shades, Draugyrd, who has bound the spirit of Lia’s Grandma Myrna to his bidding. Will Lia and Wynn triumph? Will Lia and Kelven’s blossoming romance get legs? Will magic come back to Rockberg? Read this and find out!
It is clear that this is the start of a series, which promises to be very good. All the elements of a great fantasy are here – good against evil, three children rising up against oppression, fantastic creatures, communion with nature, and a beautifully drawn fairyland – all knit together by skilled storytelling. There are some echoes of Piers Anthony and even a little Terry Pratchett, but Mercer’s Brume is all her own. The characters are likable, the plot captivating, and the writing whimsical and evocative.
Highly recommended for middle school and up.