Title: This Crumbling Pageant (The Fury Triad Book 1)
Author: Patricia Burroughs
Publisher: Story Spring Publishing, 2014
A prophecy exists that one day the True King will return and lead the Earthborn to their rightful place, and naturally this leads to conflict between the ruling Fireborn and the subjugated Earthborn.
So far as I can gather, it’s the seventeenth century, and Persephone Jones chafes against the strictures placed on her as a young woman of privilege. We first meet her when she sneaks out in her twin brother Dardanus’s place to find out what their hated tutor, Vespasian Jones, is up to with her male siblings after nightfall (no, it’s nothing what it sounds like).
What she ends up stumbling into is the tail end years-long conflict centred on the anti-hero Vespasian, who’s doing his damnedest to bring down the corrupt King Pellinore, although it takes Persephone a while to realise that perhaps the rebels have the right of it.
A word on the world of the Fireborn and Earthborn: much like JK Rowling’s muggles vs. magical worlds, their world seems to exist separate yet simultaneously with the Ordinary, as Burroughs describes it. Persephone is gifted with a surfeit of Dark magic, and though for some reason she’s not taught to control it, her family drug her instead in order to keep a lid on things.
The Fury family has long supported the kings of the Fireborn, and with her magic, Persephone becomes a target for the rebels, who seek her aid to help overthrow the regime. This is all grist for my mill when it comes to the fantasy genre, but I do have a few issues. Burroughs’s writing is rich and evocative, but there are moments when I feel that the characters act or say things, but I don’t feel as if I’m given sufficient motivation to understand *why* they do/say the things they do.
I feel I needed to know more of *why* there was a push/pull situation between Vespasian and Persephone. I’d also have liked to see Persephone take a stronger stance as a character. Granted, when she does have her moment of revelation, she *does* act, but then I felt I needed to get more inside her head. And ditto for Vespasian. It wasn’t enough for me that he simply hated Persephone, but I wanted to go deeper into his point of view as well.
There were also plenty of unanswered questions, and perhaps the one that bugged me the most was that if Persephone was supposedly so powerful, why her family hadn’t moved to train her or use her in some way instead of relegating her to the status of marriageable goods. I get that there were strictly defined gender roles in that era, but it still was something I struggled with. Also, I wanted to know a little more of the mechanics of how the Dark magic worked, in addition to the musical ability. To this end I felt the writing glossed over bits, and Burroughs could have slowed down her pace a fraction.
Other than that, this was an engaging read, and I loved the way she subverted my loyalties and inverted notions of good vs. evil.