Aster Weave is an antiques collector and seller, with an eye toward Old Earth relics for her discriminating buyers. She’s a lonely widowed woman, running the business her fathers bequeathed her. Aster is very comfortable dressing in period clothing, imagining herself a living historical artifact. She acquires a trunk of rare finds from a refugee who needs immediate credits to resettle in the Star system. When Aster handles one curious artifact, she inadvertently releases a young woman from a deep spell.
Like a djinn, Naia appears in a cloud of smoke, but she can’t grant any wishes–she doesn’t even know in what century she’s awakened. Aster can’t give any answers, but she is physically intriguing to Naia, who hasn’t had a girlfriend in centuries. As Naia recalls her life from the 20th century, she leaves Aster enthralled in more than one way.
Breathe With Me in the latest installment in the New World series by Lily X. As Aster tries to unravel the mystery of Naia’s magical imprisonment, it requires more resources than Aster’s knowledge, which is how Aster and Naia get linked up with the previous characters in this series. We get to reconnect a bit with Kit, a magic wielder, along with her grandma, who both help Naia to trace back her final moments before being trapped in the magic mirror. This story is really about 20th century bigotry, greed, and how to overcome one’s grief for a lost spouse. It’s a sweet and sentimental love story with characters that were uniquely suited and as varied as those from previous stories. I liked how both Naia and Aster had difficult pasts to reconcile, and that they found solace with one another. It’s a hurt/comfort story with a decent bit of steam.
If you have enjoyed any of the previous books, I think this episode is a strong offering. We get a window into more of the New World, and how difficult resettlement has been for the folks of these communities. Imagining a post-Earth existence is always tricky, but the author has created a space that’s interesting and layered. I really have enjoyed all the books, and while this one was quite a departure, with a MC that wasn’t closely linked to the previous MCs, it’s clearly setting up the fifth book, circling back to a previous side character for an HEA. This book has a definite happy ending for Naia and Aster that is joyous and tender.