Dark Confluence by Rosemary Fryth

8/10 An engaging tale, drawing on the mythology of pre-Christian Ireland for inspiration.

The small Queensland country town of Emerald Hills is under siege by paranormal forces! Jen McDonald, a small, neat, almost-overlooked spinster in her fifties faces a quandary. Traumatised by a car accident after seeing a mysterious, dark-shrouded figure of a woman on the road, Jen believes she may be losing her mind. Maybe there is instead a far more malign reason for the mysterious and frightening events, deaths and disappearances in Emerald Hills. Perhaps the enigmatic and otherworldly Fionn has the answers she needs? As the mystery unfolds before her, Jen begins to feel trapped, not only between warring factions of the supernatural Faerie race, but also by her desire for one of them. She does not want to be a heroine, but it is possible that her newly discovered and special gift will force her to be the town's defender.

Dark Confluence is the first book in The Darkening series by Rosemary Fryth and a work of contemporary paranormal fantasy.

Authors like Michael Morpheus and Cormac McCarthy have long helped me realise that a book does not need to be excessively long in order for an author to get their story, characters and world fully developed. Indeed, stripping out all that is unnecessary often leaves a story that is able to hold the reader's attention throughout without the lulls that can so often occur. And in only 56,000 words Rosemary Fryth has managed to create an engaging tale, drawing on the mythology of pre-Christian Ireland for inspiration. Fryth has a pleasant command of the English language and the narrative is clean and crisp as a result. Her characters, from the bookish, unassuming Jen to the power-mad eco-warrior Carma are well drawn and interesting. I've always liked reading about extraordinary things happening to the most ordinary of people (Bilbo Baggins comes instantly to mind) so I was won over straight away.

Ordinarily I would find a woman who bought a one-way ticket to Australia to hook up with a dream man she had only spoken to through letters a complete idiot, unworthy of sympathy but luckily Jen openly admits her own foolishness and I found that I respected her for making the best of things after making one hell of a silly life choice. So this was a good start, I had sympathy for the main character. In fact I grew to like her very quickly as she is the kind of person I warm to in real life, those who pick themselves up, dust themselves off, lift up their chin and make the best of what the future holds. Fryth understands what "write about what you know" and I would hazard a guess that many characters, locations and jobs are based on people she has know in real life.

I found much to like in this book's pages and as well as paranormal fantasy there was a little horror (oh, the poor barman!) and lots of mythology to get my teeth into. Reading about Jen and the peculiar goings-on in Emerald Hills was a constantly interesting and often exciting experience and I would recommend this book to all fans of paranormal fantasy. There is romance but thankfully (from my standpoint) it was not at all overwhelming or cringe-worthy (something I have often found in similar books). Dark Confluence is definitely more about fantasy than romance.

I greatly enjoyed reading this book and was so impressed that I will soon move onto Fryth's epic fantasy trilogy entitled Riothamus as soon as I am able. For those who have already read and enjoyed Dark Confluence - book two, Dark Destination will be out soon. Go to www.rosemaryfryth.com for more information.

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