My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts...
Larkspur’s Quest brings the conclusion to the magical new historical romance series by author Emily Larkin. This short “prologue” to the Baleful Godmother series, and book 4 of The Fey Quartet, was more of a wrapping up for the Miller Sisters’ tales.
The Fey Quartet portrays the backdrop telling the tales of the ancestors of the heroines of The Baleful Godmother series, the first scheduled to be published in November 2016. Even though it’s not necessary, after reading all 4 prologues, I highly recommend that you start with them as each story clarifies how a bloodline of humans, particularly the females, came to be in possession of a special ability of their own.
The Fey Quartet is set in Dapple Vale, a place hidden from the human eyes, though the ones that dwell there are humans...
Dapple Vale is surrounded by woods and hills and forests. It seemed to me like one of those magical places that no trouble, manmade or otherwise, can touch. Each little village of Dapple Vale has been blessed thus. There was, of course, a reason behind it. Dapple Vale bordered with the Fey world by a thinnest of thin, very invisible, line. Yes, the story takes place at a time when Fey rumored to have walked the earth. Or when the Norman’s invaded England. There were some pros and cons of living in a magical, evergreen place such as Dapple Vale. The pros were many but the cons weren’t something you could ignore. For one, the humans had to be ever cautious of their more cruel and capricious neighbors, making sure they never ever cross that line that could only be felt by a tingling on the back of one’s neck while walking the forest. Never communicate with a Fey, never ever make a bargain of any sort, if you could help it that is. They were not just cruel, they enjoyed playing with their human toys. Who knew what they’d make out of you, a chicken or a donkey! You simply never give them that chance! Any fool who dared venturing into their world had never returned.
It’s something like Dapple Vale itself. Anyone who ventured out of this place could never return, unless that person had a token from the valley itself to show him the way back. It seemed that the whole valley, because of their contact with the Fey world, was quite invisible from the human world.
Maythorn’s Wish, book 1 of The Fey Quartet, introduced us to Maythorn AKA Widow Miller, and her 3 beautiful daughters—Ivy, Hazel and Larkspur. Maythorn’s story begins the journey for the Miller sisters. Maythorn, who was severely beaten by her very drunk (now deceased) husband because she couldn’t give him sons, had a life that revolved around her daughters. Gyles left them with virtually nothing, but because Maythorn’s beauty was legendary, as was her kindness to the villagers of Dapple Bend, they came together to help the widow to make sure the family won’t go hungry or cold. After some 20 odd years later, Maythorn’s life was about to change irrevocably when she came across a Fey baby in the woods and saves it from drowning. This also indebts the baby’s mother to her; something the Fey simply hate! Bargaining with the Fey is extremely dangerous but Maythorn takes a chance for her daughters, especially Ivy who had a lame leg from the beating she took the same day while trying to save her mother from her father’s wrath.
TBH Maythorn was grotesquely disfigured and had to endure physical pain every single day. I couldn’t help but feel for her. So I could see why she’d wanted to bargain for better lives for her daughters, as well as for herself. The Fey mother granted Maythorn’s own wish to become younger and healthier, as she was once upon a time. But her daughters’ wishes will have to wait until their coming birthdays. As a whole, it did pose some problems as to how she was going to keep something so monumental a secret from the village. Also from the leader of Dapple Valley, Lord Warder, who goes by as Dappleward. But most of all, Maythorn was very wary of confiding in, Ren Blacksmith, her longtime crush, about the truth. According to Maythorn, Ren was the kindest man of all of Dapple Vale, but what if he turns his back from her once he learns of her secret? It did take some measures, where they ultimately had to confide to Dappleward, who was very kind, generous, and thoughtful of Maythorn’s plight. Together they come up with a plan to make sure this secret remains a secret from the rest of the world.
Next was Hazel’s birthday, so Hazel gets her wish done before her other two sisters, in Haze’s Promise. We don’t get the details of “when” though. Afterwards, she sneaks out of her home to go in search of her errant lover. With her “gift”, using her senses, Hazel’s was able to find anyone, or anything for that matter. On her way she meets Tam Dappleward, who is also the youngest son of Lord Warder and together they have a grand adventure, until they realize they’d fallen in love with each-other.
In between Larkspur’s birthday comes; unfortunately her wish goes awry. She was scared of falling for the wrong man, and her father’s terrible history didn’t help matters, so she wanted to know the minds of the men courting her before she committed to anything. However, the Fey twisted her wish into something else entirely. Now Larkspur could read and feel the emotions of all around her, which was wrecking havoc on her health, both mentally and physically. Hazel has been calling that fickle Fey Bale Tongue ever since this trickery that jeopardized Larkspur’s life.
When things got really bad, Ivy comes to the rescue. She still had her wish left and wanted to use it to save her little sister. She does that too…… but her story in Ivy’s Choice takes a completely different turn when Hugh Dappleward, Lord Warder’s eldest son and heir, Tam’s brother, cursed as a roebuck, stumbles into the woodcutter’s ramshackle cottage where Larkspur was staying at that time. The only way she could handle her so-called “gift” was to stay as far away from people as possible. But she, in the end, braves her misery and helps Hugh and Ivy, who had already started falling for each-other; her one last good deed before the Fey granted Ivy’s wish and took away her mind-reading abilities.
In Larkspur’s Quest, we find that Larkspur is left with a guilt so big, she couldn’t help but drown in it. Ivy was still lame when their mother specifically wanted her to become whole again. When Maythorn learned of what’s had gone on while she was away, she was heartbroken. It must’ve been a double-edged situation for her, but Ivy was adamant in helping Larkspur. And even though Hugh cared not a whit about her lameness, Ivy was still lame. Ivy, who deserved better than this, yet she chose to save her sister’s life. Now that all the wishes were used up, Larkspur could only wonder how she can help her dear sister so she would know a life without the continuous suffering.
Then she remembered a secret that was kept hidden by Lord Warder, his sons, Rauf Ironfist, his head of security, and his son Cadoc. A secret no one but these few people were supposed to know. They were oath-bound to keep it that way. But Larkspur could read thoughts, and Cadoc, Hugh and Tam, all were thinking of that forbidden place to save Hugh from his accursed state. Even though they didn’t have to go that far, Larkspur still knew there was a place where she can still ask for a wish in exchange of, uh, some certain activities that the granter of their wish would enjoy. Larkspur knew what she has to do. She also knew who she wanted to do “it” with. Now the only problem was, would Cadoc even bother to listen to her, let alone take her to that forbidden place and do some forbidden act to have one wish granted for Ivy? After all, if could mean Cadoc would be fired from his post, possibly exiled from Dapple Vale forever for this. And an inhabitant of Dapple Vale would never ever want to be exiled from this peaceful, beauteous place.
Larkspur wouldn’t want that to happen either, but she was absolutely desperate, and Cadoc was her only hope...................
As a whole, I enjoyed The Fey Quartet quite a lot. TBH, didn’t want this series to end. I loved the writing and was totally getting hooked into this world, all the while wishing we had longer versions with more actions and adventures. Some of the elements of each story had me intrigued, and I wanted to know when/how that happened. I wanted to explore more. But, I’m also super excited to start The Baleful Godmother series, which is going to be full-length Regency romance. 4 stars.
Complimentary copy received from the author in exchange of an honest review.