In Victorian England, within the sprawling countryside, a small village borders Lovelorn, a crystal kingdom inhabited by the Fair Folk that masquerades as a dense wood. Two unsuspecting mortals stray into the depths of this hidden world.
Harry, a disgraced jockey, stumbles upon a Kelpie and seeks to bind him, intending to use him to regain his former glory at horse racing. He is dancing a dangerous waltz however as Kelpies are a sly and deadly folk, his actions bringing him steadily closer to a grave at the bottom of a lake.
Mabel, a grieving wife abandoned by her husband, searches for her young son, Peter, who was stolen by the Fair Folk, simply wanting to bring her family together again. She makes a bargain with a knight from Lovelorn, entrusting her quest to him, all the while fearful that his word cannot be trusted.
Unbeknownst to them, their paths run parallel. They struggle to navigate the unbalanced and crumbling kingdom, while being opposed by creatures they thought resided only in fables. Can they play by the strange rules of the Fair Folk and win their freedom, or are they fated to lose themselves within the trees?
🧙🏽 magic/fantasy/folk lore
🌈 queer content
✒️ beautifully written
🌎 marvellous world-building
April-Jane Rowan is the author of one of my favourite books: Beneath a Bethel. I was excited to pick up this new book! In Lovelorn, Rowan returns to the darker side of the literary world. This is her wheelhouse
The novel is set in Victoria England… but it’s an England which is nestled next to a dark forest filled with magical/supernatural beings. If you’ve dreamed of it… Rowan will write it… and then some. The world that the author has created is dark and visceral, the world-building is remarkable. I found that while I was reading a world was unfolding in my mind quite clearly. This is a dangerous and foreboding world. There are many things that will kill and there are others that are dangerous and deceptive.
Harry is feeling rebellious when he takes off on his horse for the woods. What awaits him is an enchanted and terrifying world that may well kill him. Despite his confidence he is thrown from his horse after terrorizing some local farmers. Injured and without his mount, Harry begins to wander places that he shouldn’t. Harry’s course through the book is more related to personal growth than anything.
Harry is a darker character and, at first, I found him to be quite unlikeable. That’s not to say he’s poorly written – quite the contrary! I think he is a great character. In many ways he is all about regaining power that he feels he has lost by living with a disability. There’s very little graciousness about him… and I didn’t trust him!
Mabel is dealing with grief. Mourning the loss of her husband from her life when she loses her son and embarks upon an epic adventure to find him. Mabel genuinely hopeful she will find her son by heading into the forest. She makes deals, accepts offers of help and basically takes every chance that may bring her son back to her. She is trusting and naive in some ways but the pain that drives her forward is what seems to keep her going.
This eerie, and dark tale may not be for everyone, but I would highly recommend it. April-Jane has a marvellously fluid and detailed writing style. This story follows two very different journeys through a dark, painful… and yet sometimes light and amusing world. This is a world and a story that is written beautifully. I will always read any book by April-Jane Rowan!
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I received an ARC of Lovelorn by April-Jane Rowan from Gurt Dog Press from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.