Release date: 8 November 2022
Synopsis: In the woods where human lands meet fae, an ancient king born before the history of men finds a dying baby.
Iohmar will take in the child and care for him until a suitable home in the human realm is found. But best laid plans often go awry in the lands of Látwill, where winds carry fae across the star-strewn sky, the woods ensnare the weak-minded with their sinister song, and even Iohmar, King Beneath the Earth, is susceptible to the will of the immortal mountains.
Magic long tethered to Iohmar’s soul will crumble. Unknown shadows and monsters of mirrored glass will encroach upon the borders of their land. And memories thousands of years lost will unravel as Iohmar struggles not only to properly rule his fair folk, but protect the fragile human son he never should have saved in the first place.
Under the Earth, Over the Sky reads like a dream perfectly articulated in story form. Very rarely can a book with such entrancing cover art live up to its promise with a matching narrative. The pacing drifts slowly, like a stroll in the woods, with some action sprinkled along the way to offer breaks in the doldrums. I absolutely loved the McCosh's debut and did not mind the slow pacing at all, as it wasn’t so much an issue with a certain part of the story but an overall mood framing it. This book deals elegantly in subtlety. The forest setting lends itself well to the pacing, and even many of the characters with which Iohmar interacts transition in and out seamlessly, leaving the reader to wonder if the interaction was a dream.
Iohmar, the King Beneath the Earth, is ages old—so old many of his childhood memories are faintly remembered. He meanders through life tending his woods and caring for his subjects day after day in the same fashion for so long that when he stumbles on a group of men on the outskirts of his land, it provides more of a diversion for him than he realizes. It is here that he metes out justice to an oppressor and finds himself wondering what to do with a dying baby.
The plot follows the seasons, framing the story in parts that juxtapose the effects of said seasons in the world of men. The effects of the changes sometimes cause violent upheaval and change, which Iohmar must deal with in the form of strange creatures and monsters threatening to destroy the magic of his kingdom and, in turn, the Folk living in it. Along the way, he solves a mystery hidden to him by the sheer span of time.
Though I did not mind the pacing, and I both read and listened to the book, I feel this may be an aspect of the story that will divide some readers. I enjoy slow books, as long as the pace is an actual aspect of the narrative and not a bogging down of the story for lack of a structural cohesion or idea what do with a certain aspect of the story.
It’s been quite a while since I enjoyed a book so much and couldn’t find any fault in it at all. The physical book, which I got from a Kickstarter campaign, is absolutely gorgeous. If you see the cover and it entices you to pick up the book, I highly recommend it. I was not disappointed. I will be following McCosh’s upcoming works very closely in future; I feel she is an author to watch.