Midnight Never Come
Elizabeth I is believed by many to be one of the greatest monarchs in English history. But what if some of her most glorious accomplishments were assisted by unseen forces? Marie Brennan’s historical fantasy posits that the Princess Elizabeth was visited by the faery queen Invidiana while she was imprisoned in the Tower of London, and that the two noble women made a secret pact that impacted their futures—and the futures of their respective societies.
Years later, a young man named Michael Deven makes his appearance at Elizabeth’s court. He finds himself admitted to the ranks of the Gentlemen Pensioners, where he attracts the attention of Sir Francis Walsingham, who charges him with a task: find the identity of the unseen intruder who seems to be spying on the court. At the same time, the Onyx Court of faery, located beneath London, is in a state of upheaval. Its ruler, Invidiana, is cruel and fickle, and she expels Lune, one of her courtiers, from the court. Lune finds herself forced to live disguised among humans. As Lune and Deven become increasingly aware of the secret pact between their respective queens, they realize that the only way to end the problems that have been plaguing both kingdoms is to destroy Invidiana’s power.
A folklorist familiar with the faery lore of the British Isles, Brennan chose to focus on the area surrounding London, rather than cherrypicking from the more familiar fey of the Irish or Scottish traditions. As with most historical fantasy, there’s a lot of exposition, which is necessary to properly place the fae within historical context. As a result, the beginning is somewhat slow, but after the first few chapters, the action and pacing pick up. As with a Shakespearean play, the final act is climactic, and the resolution is satisfying. Readers who enjoy a combination of folklore and history will appreciate Midnight Never Come.