Note: in the USA this book is published with the title of "The Demon Lover" under the pen name of Juliet Dark
Published 2011 466 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
In a town built on magic be careful what you dream…
Ever since moving to Fairwick to take up a teaching post at the local college, Callie has been having vivid, erotic dreams about a man made out of moonlight and shadows. Dreams she begins to fear as well as anticipate…
She learns that her home – a Victorian cottage at the edge of a wood – is supposedly haunted. And then her new – and rather strange – colleagues tell her a local legend about an incubus with a human past who was enchanted by a fairy queen…
Incubus is the first novel in the Fairwick Chronicles, a new urban fantasy series by award-winning mystery author Carol Goodman. This is the author’s first foray into fantasy under her established Carol Goodman pen-name but it isn’t entirely virgin territory for Goodman since she has also written Black Swan Rising under the pseudonym Lee Carroll (with co-author and husband Lee Slonimsky.)
For readers who are familiar with the author’s work as Lee Carroll there are some major similarities between Incubus and Black Swan Rising – such as writing style, story pacing, the sensible heroine’s stoic acceptance of the supernatural and the remoteness of the narration. There is a unique style that ignores many of the usual UF genre conventions to good effect. It’s fair to say that if you have enjoyed Black Swan Rising you would enjoy Incubus too – the writing quality shines through whatever pen-name the author uses.
The Fairwick Chronicles concentrate on the experiences of Callie McFay, a young college teacher who accepts a post teaching Gothic literature at Fairwick College in upstate New York. Callie’s class is actually called “Vampires and the Gothic Imagination” and is a mixture of modern vampire fiction combined with Gothic classics. Fairwick has a huge mythology and folklore department for a small college but the initial oddity of this doesn’t put Callie off taking the job. Fairwick itself is a wonderfully imagined decaying rural town on the edge of a wild forest. There is a dreamy quality to the place in the novel’s earliest scenes that alerts the reader, if not the story’s heroine, that there is something magical about the place. An old Victorian house on the edge of the woods draws Callie like a magnet and it isn’t long before Callie has a new home, in addition to the teaching job.
Fairwick is soon revealed to be on the edge of the borderlands between Fairy and the modern, human world. The last doorway to Fairy is hidden in the woods. Naturally some of the town’s population, as well as the college’s staff, turn out to be exiles from the Fairy homeland. The college is an equal opportunities employer though – it also has vampires, witches and Babylonian deities on staff too. Callie who lived all her with no idea that the supernatural existed takes the big reveal with minimal fuss. Along the way she learns she is the child of parents with witch and fairy blood and that she has some magical abilities. The only downside is that her beautiful house came with an incubus in residence, who is slowly sucking her life force away… even as she finds herself increasingly attached to the vivid erotic dreams that come with his possession.
Incubus is a fabulous mixture of classic Gothic themes, paranormal romance and urban fantasy. The classic Gothic props of a haunting house and creepy woods – along with doomed romance and a heroine who doesn’t know who to trust – give the story’s romantic elements a rich, dark depth. If the story’s pacing is perhaps a little slow (it has none of the racing from one supernatural crisis to another at a furious pace that is a staple of the urban fantasy genre) it’s not a bad thing because this is a story to be savoured rather than rushed.
Hugely enjoyable and highly recommended, Incubus gets the Fairwick Chronicles off to a great start – leaving this reviewer already looking forward to the next instalment of this series.
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