ARC provided by netgalley.
Originally posted at Paperback Wonderland.
“Bring to me my Cobweb Bride. Bring her to the gates of Death’s Keep that stands in the Northern Forest. Only then will I grant relief and resume taking your kind unto me. Until then, none shall die.”
"What if you killed someone and then fell in love with them?"
As soon as you start reading, you know this book will be amazing.The use of language is delightful: Death's first appearance, coalescing into form out of smoke, darkness, and garlands of ice cobwebs, is so incredibly vivid and beautiful you can't help being hooked right there. There is talent here, descriptions abound, but they do not show up on the page as the usual scene building for the plot, instead, it's as if the reader's eyes can't help but being arrested by a multitude of singular details that merge to form the most illuminating pictures.
The worlbuilding and characters are fantastic, but not only that, the premise of the story, while being based on the Persephone myth, is wonderfully original. Adaptations of the myth tend to focus on how Demeter's grief keeps the world from flourishing and how death soon ravages untamed. In the Cobweb Bride the dying remain in agony in their deathbeds, or bleeding from gaping wounds in the battlefields, or freezing in the murky darkness at the bottom of icy lakes - but Death will bring them no relief. Not until his bride is brought to him.
In the quest to deliver Death's Cobweb Bride several stories are told: the old queen whose death rattle keeps the castle awake, the three frivolous nobles who decide to make of this quest an amusing adventure, the dead duke's son charged with capturing all potential cobweb brides from reaching their destiny so his father may stay undead, the princess and her murderer (my personal favourite subplot), and Percy and her carriage full of would-be cobweb brides. Each story is captivating in its own right, and their characters all have the same purpose: to allow the dead to truly die, for, as the book says, "to be dead is not such a bad thing when it is your time to be dead, to be relieved of pain and suffering."
Fans of Patricia A. McKillip will surely love this book, but I recommend it to everyone who likes fantasy.