Kim Wilkins,
The Autumn Castle
(Warner/Aspect, 2005)

Christine and Miranda were childhood pals, neighbors who became blood sisters and shared everything -- until the day Miranda disappeared. Now, many years later, a painful accident has led Christine to Miranda -- and much, much more.

The Autumn Castle by Kim Wilkins is an enchanting modern fantasy that situates the modern world -- in this case, Berlin -- alongside the fairy land of Ewigkreis. Ewigkreis and other fairy realms shift with the seasons, and their proximity to this world is sporadic at best. Christine and Miranda both delight in visiting the other's domain, but each knows that the coming of winter will mark the end of their visits.

Christine is haunted by memories and injuries sustained in the accident that killed her parents. She lives with her boyfriend, Jude, in a temporary artists' community sponsored by Mandy Z, a wealthy, eccentric sculptor who secretly hunts and kills fairies for his art. It doesn't help that Miranda is falling in love with Christine's beau, Jude, but matters really spin out of control when the sinister witch Hexebart escapes from her well and follows Miranda into the real world for mischief's sake.

The resolutions to several key plot twists became obvious to me fairly early in the book, but that didn't stop me from enjoying other, more surprising twists along the way. Even after guessing the ending, I was absorbed in the story to the very last word. Christine and Miranda are both likeable, yet flawed protagonists, while Mandy Z is a disturbing blend of unconscious amorality and self-absorbed evil.

Wilkins is an Australian author who has, to date, escaped my notice. I hope to hear much more from her in the future!

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 12 March 2005

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