"After news of grave robbing and murder in Dún Ringall, the ancient stronghold of Clan McKinnon on the Isle of Skye, Rosalie realises it is time to share her family’s secrets. Descendants of the mystical Ethne M’Kynnon, Rosalie tells of a violent rift that occurred centuries earlier, splitting Ethne from her sisters forever and causing relentless anguish and enmity between ancient families.
Meanwhile, Algernon and Clement Benedict have arrived in Sydney searching for the lost relics of their family. They are driven by revenge and a thirst for power, and will take what they can to reinstate their family heritage. Their meddling with ancient magic will have far-reaching effects, as they fail to realise ther role in a far greater quest.
In the grounds of Sydney’s magnificent Garden Palace, danger grows as an ages-old feud of queens and goddesses heats up. The discovery of arcane symbols bring the distant past in a foreign land to Australia and will cause a profound struggle with tragic results, a surprising new recruit from an unknown world, and the complete destruction of the palace.
Set around stories and characters in 1882 Sydney, Keeper of the Way includes current affairs, people and buildings long gone, and gives a voice to people history doesn’t always listen to."
Author: Patricia Leslie
Series?: Crossing The Line #1
Genre: Historical, Urban Fantasy
Right from the mystical and grisly opening, this novel grips you and takes you on an enchanting journey alongside Rosalie Ponsonby, and her family. When the arrival of a stranger to Sydney brings dark and dangerous consequences, Rosalie must draw upon her ancestors and her own witchcraft to prevent the spreading of dark magic, and the dire consequences this would have for all.
Leslie cleverly intertwines magic, history and modernity into this urban novel, creating a truly satisfying read. She captures a time where railway was a recent innovation, and rituals and ancestral customs seem more natural to the time than technology. This gives life to her imaginative hypothesis for the burning of Sydney's Garden Palace; the fusion of magic and modernity is masterful, authentic and keeps the reader engaged throughout.
But the characters are the real jewels of this story; they are all fully developed and relatable, whether you feel akin to Rosalie's motherly care or Florentine's youthful defiance. The strength of the Mackinnon family bond and their unbreakable love for each other is tangible to the reader, and aligns you with their fight against evil.
Yet my favourite thing about this novel, is that it is completely dominated by strong female characters. It is Rosalie, Florentine and Anastasia who possess the powers to save them, rejecting the typical narrative of men coming to save the damsels in distress. Yet these women do not need magic to be strong; Rosalie is a successful businesswoman, respected in an alienating patriarchal society and Florentine proves she has the strength and nerve to fight for her family regardless of the magic within. Although the novel revolves around the Ponsonby kitchen, this does not represent their domestic restraints, but becomes the base of their tight-knit family, and the headquarters for their impending battles.
Leslie doesn't cut short on the opposing character's either; they are themselves, fully fledged characters, telling their own narrative alongside Rosalie's story. The omniscient narration means we can understand the motives and feelings of all characters, so that when we get behind Rosalie and her struggles, it is because we believe in her intentions. The alternating chapters symbolise the two sides to magic; how it can be virtuous and pure but also corrupt you into believing in the wrong cause.
Overall, Keeper of the Way is an exciting, endearing, and mystical novel, drawing from Sydney's folklore to incorporate authenticity and history into a captivating narrative. From the gripping opening to its fiery conclusion, this novel satisfies your imagination, and leaves you with a bombshell that will have you itching to start its sequel.
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