The sequence began with The Obsidian Mirror, in which we were introduced to Oberon Venn and his obsession with the strange obsidian mirror that can transport one across time. Oberon wants to use it to turn time back to cheat death – the death of his wife in a car accident; Jakes wants to find his father; Sarah wants to destroy it to prevent the future. What does Summer, queen of the Fay, want? Then came The Box of Red Brocade and the jigsaw began to take shape. We learned more about the mysterious Maskelyne and visited London during the Blitz. There were betrayals and revelations, and spring came to Wintercombe.
Now it is summer and gradually Jake, Sarah and Oberon, under the guidance of Maskelyne, are learning to use the Chronoptika. Opposing them are Janus and Summer. Gideon the changeling is in the middle. But slowly the tangled skein of coloured threads is turning into a picture. What will winter bring, for surely there will be a further instalment to bring the year to a close?
This is a densely packed sequence, and this instalment is no exception. Indeed, for some, it may be too rich in its multi-layered narrative. Central to the action is a preoccupation with time – past, present, future, or even in the case of the Fay, no time – and the perennial desire or temptation to manipulate and change it. However, weaving in and out are stories and relationships that reference other sources – A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one. We see the action from different viewpoints and learn how each character has a personal involvement. This is not for the fainthearted, but for those committed young readers who want more than the usual fantasy, they will discover it is a rewarding experience. I look forward with interest to the closing of the circle.