In the concluding part of Womack’s Darkening Path trilogy, Simon and Flora have rescued the siblings they wished away into an otherworld, and toppled the sinister Broken King from his throne, setting his daughter Selena in his place. But the King’s dying curse has sprung a trap, closing the Way and imprisoning them in the Silver Kingdom. No-one now can move between the realms; the only hope of getting home is for the human children to travel to the Temple of the Threefold Goddess, whose forms have been bound, and set her free. But unimaginable perils lie along the way.
As in the previous two volumes, Womack interweaves figures of classical mythology, like Mithras and his torchbearer Cautes, with characters and creatures of his own invention – notably the huge crab, She-who-rakes-the-shores, and treacherous Cygnet, son of the Knight of the Swan – to great effect. Characteristically, too, he doesn’t spare the gore; the processes by which the goddess’s forms must be freed may well induce a wince and a shudder in the squeamish. His main characters, especially Simon, sometimes suffer by comparison to their more charismatic, sinister counterparts, and can occasionally come across as stilted or old-fashioned. But the limpid, soaring quality of his descriptive prose, coupled with the swift pace of the action, makes for an intensely satisfying culmination to this transporting trilogy – with an assured, rich and unexpected ending.