fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsGrail of the Summer Stars by Freda WarringtonGrail of the Summer Stars by Freda Warrington

Grail of the Summer Stars is the third in Freda Warrington’s AETHERIAL TALES series, following Elfland and Midsummer Night. Each novel can stand alone, though they have some overlapping plotlines and characters, such that each novel will be more meaningful and resonant if you’ve read the others. Grail of the Summer Stars has more overlapping elements than either of the two previous books and is connected more strongly to each of them than they are to each other.

Warrington introduces us to Stevie Silverwood, a metalworking artist and museum curator who has always been a little odd, seeing things no one else could see — and whose past before age 15 is a mystery even to herself. Her quiet life is disrupted when her old college sweetheart, Daniel, sends her a triptych of fantastic paintings along with a cryptic note, and goes missing. Her path soon crosses with that of Mistangamesh, an Aetherial man whom we met in Midsummer Night. He is hunting for his brother, Rufus, intending to kill him. Their subsequent search for Daniel and for the paintings’ meaning draws them into a millennia-old mystery involving Mist’s family and a megalomaniacal plot that could destroy both the Earth and the Spiral.

Like the previous AETHERIAL TALES novels, Grail of the Summer Stars features beautiful prose and themes of finding and being true to oneself, of love, of troubled family relationships, of art as a manifestation of magic and as a form of magic in itself. Warrington expands on another corner of her Aetherial world here, and it’s hard to imagine that there’s any end to her treasure trove of ideas. The pace is faster this time out; while there is an epic, sweeping past behind this novel’s plot, there is a race-against-time feel to the modern-day action, and the book is the shortest of the series (so far).

Warrington’s plotting is tight and nothing is wasted. One is continually surprised, while reading Grail of the Summer Stars, as what seemed like throwaway details come back to make total sense and to tie in with the central plot. This is true both of elements introduced in this novel and of threads from the previous two; as mentioned above, material from the earlier books is woven into this one, often in surprising ways.

I highly recommend the entire series to anyone looking for an inventive fantasy world that intersects with our own, for intricate plotting, and for characters you will feel for and feel like you know personally. Warrington could theoretically stop here and have a satisfying trilogy, but I hope she has many more AETHERIAL TALES to tell. Her universe is certainly rich enough to contain them.

Release date: April 23, 2013 | Series: Aetherial Tales (Book 3). The climactic concluding novel in the spellbinding magical contemporary fantasy Aetherial Tales trilogy. A painting, depicting haunting scenes of a ruined palace and a scarlet-haired goddess in front of a fiery city, arrives unheralded in an art gallery with a cryptic note saying, “The world needs to see this.” The painting begins to change the lives of the woman who is the gallery’s curator and that of an ancient man of the fey Aetherial folk who has mysteriously risen from the depths of the ocean. Neither human nor fairy knows how they are connected, but when the painting is stolen, both are compelled to discover the meaning behind the painting and the key it holds to their future. In Grail of the Summer Stars, a haunting, powerful tale of two worlds and those caught between, Freda Warrington weaves an exciting story of suspense, adventure and danger that fulfills the promise of the Aetherial Tales as only she can.

The Aetherial Tales — (2009-2013) Publisher: Elfland is an intimate, sensual novel of people — both human and Aetherial — caught between duty and desire. It is a story of families, and of Rose Fox, a woman born to magic but tormented by her place in her adopted world. Led by Auberon Fox, a group of Aetherials — call them the Fair Folk, if you will — live among us, indistinguishable from humans. Every seven years, on the Night of the Summer Stars, Lawrence Wilder, the Gatekeeper, throws open all gates to the Other World. But this time, something has gone wrong. Wilder has sealed the gates, warning of a great danger lurking in the realm beyond them. The Aetherial community is outraged. What will become of them, deprived of the home realm from which their essential life force flows? Rose Fox and Sam Wilder are drawn to the lands beyond the gates, even as their families feud over Lawrence’s refusal to do his duty. Struggling with their own too-human urges, they discover hidden truths that draw them together in a forbidden alliance. Only by breaching the dreaded gates and daring the danger beyond can they confront that which they fear most – their otherness — and claim their birthright.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsfantasy and science fiction book reviewsFreda Warrington Grail of the Summer Stars


  • Kelly Lasiter

    KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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