Rating: 3.75 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Small time thief Devlin is on the run. Mac, his friend and former protector, is trying to kill him and Devlin can never stay in any place for long. When Mac catches up to Devlin again, Devlin flees to a local Renaissance Faire, hoping to pick enough pockets to get the money he needs to move on. But the faire and the people inside are not quite as they seem. As Devlin winds his way through the crowd relieving them of their money, he notices a man with piercing green eyes watching him. Disconcerted, Devlin runs deep into the Faire town, a place full of shops and pubs. One shop calls to him, Ezra’s Amulets, and Devlin enters. Once inside, one particular amulet gets his attention, and unable to stop himself, Devlin steals the amulet from the shop and puts it on.
From that moment on, Devlin’s life starts to change. For the magic inside the amulet is real and pulls Devlin back to the Faire even as he runs off back to the city. Injured, Devlin returns, and waiting for him is the man Devlin saw watching him – Ezra. But Mac is close behind Devlin, gun at hand. Devlin will die unless a miracle happens. Will Devlin trust in Ezra and the Faire’s magic to keep him alive or will Mac win out in the end?
Faire Fugitive is my first book by Madeleine Ribbon but it definitely won’t be my last. I found this story to be charming, engrossing, absolutely winning in almost every way. Ribbon has created a wonderful universe in her Faire and its varied denizens. From a fox furry to a fortune teller with more than fortunes up his sleeve, the author has created a modern Brigadoon in the guise of a Renaissance Faire. Her descriptions of the Faire should be familiar to any person who has visited their local festival, but then she takes it several marvelous steps further into a magical realm with a sentience of its own.
Ribbon’s characters too are charming and endearing, each in its own way. Devlin’s life has been a hard one of foster families and then life on the street at the tender age of 11. His only friend has turned against him in a cruel twist of fate and now he is permanently on the run, fleeing for his life and out of funds. His desperation is keenly felt and the reader not only fears for him, but feels for his circumstances too. Ezra, the amulet maker, is a little more of an enigma. I wish the author had given us more of his history. As it is, he doesn’t come against quite as realistic as Devlin does. None of the others do, except Gail, the fox furry, an adorable character. But perhaps that is the author’s intent because most of the other people involved are wedded to the magic that is the Faire and are no longer of the outside world.
Ribbon’s narrative flows smoothly, bogging down only slightly when it spends too much time with Devlin prior to the Faire. Once within the gates, however, it picks up speed, gathering momentum as the plot proceeds to the end. And that is where all my quibbles arrive. Ribbon sets us up for a denouement that never happens. We keep waiting for the “aha” moment and a strange and deflating plot twist takes that satisfaction away from the reader, giving us a poor substitution in its place. She also ends her story just where I would love to see an Epilogue appear. I hope that the abrupt ending foretells another story in the same universe. I would be first in line to pick it up.
Even with my quibbles, I recommend Faire Fugitive and look forward to much more from Madeleine Ribbon.
Cover art by Fiona Jayde. I thought this was a gorgeous cover, perfect in tone and coloring for the story within. One of my favorites of the month.