Zoe Parker takes on a different version and side of the fae in her debut novel, Elusion. She explores the “Feyrie”, a designation of creatures that is placed opposite “Light Elves”. This appears to correspond with the more well-known designations of Winter Court and Summer Court (respectively) in classic Fae folklore, but with new twists. Unapologetic do-whatever-it-takes-to-survive characters form the basis for a new dark fantasy series that has me anxiously awaiting book two.
This was a slow beginning. I put it down and picked it up twice before I finished. But I’m so glad I kept coming back. The development of the characters and the build-up toward…whatever it is she’s doing (I STILL DON’T KNOW! DID I MISS IT!?) is so detailed and sophisticated that it is a must read for anybody looking for a more literary leaning in their Urban Fantasy reads.
It is difficult to tell how long Iza has been in the cell next to Phobe, or even how long she was anywhere else, as time in the beginning of the story seems jumbled. Her childlike nomenclature for the people in the prison reflects the fact that she’s been imprisoned since she was a child, but she also has startling insights, giving her a much more complex personality than most female leads in the Urban Fantasy genre. Slowly, as the book progresses, her mind becomes more clear and so does the rest of the narrative.
Parker doesn’t shy away from the darker aspects of living in a prison, and as such, she might just need a more explicit warning on her blurb. Between forced sexual encounters and the violence perpetrated on both Iza and Phobe, the story is not for the faint of heart. However, it is necessary to the narrative and not something that feels gratuitous. It definitely isn’t violence for the sake of violence. In order to really understand Iza later, you have to see what she and Phobe are put through at the hands of the “Light” court.
Parker uses the term Schoth to name the Light Elves. I’ve tried looking it up, but I’m pretty sure she made it up. I can’t find it in relation to folklore, mythology, fae or fairy at all. Google is pretty certain I can’t spell Scotch at this point. This is not a detractor, as she uses Schoth and light interchangeably, allowing the reader to understand what the unfamiliar term means. Her seamless explanations of new words avoids the dreaded “info dump” and fits well into the narrative.
The use of imagery to convey foreshadowing is HUGE in this book. Iza’s tattoo, Phobe’s markings, the use of glamour. Parker uses them all with a deliberation that simultaneously screams “LOOK AT ME” and quietly whispers “look away.” I found myself flipping back to find descriptions of drawings, markings, etc that I didn’t pay attention to and then needed to know in order to understand something later.
Upon reflection, Elusion almost feels like two books. There is the prison book and the post-prison book. The prison book is dark and feels like a build-up of Iza as a person. Showing us her character and slowly building her relationship with Phobe. The after-prison book is much lighter, though it’s obvious that the human world has its own dark spaces and Parker doesn’t hesitate to explore them.
I was highly impressed with this novel. As a debut novel, I was certain that the author was an established author writing under a pen name. Editing is great, though there are a few things here or there that caused me to have to re-read for understanding. Mostly, though, Parker seems to be a seasoned storyteller. She draws the reader in with promises of darkness and redemption, creating the perfect anti-heroes to lead the charge in this new series. I am looking forward to her next release.
Pick up your copy of Elusion by clicking the link below.