Verdict: PHILOMENA: A TALE FROM THE COR NOVAN SKY ALMANAC is a work of spectacular imagination and intricately worked plot at its finest, combining to form a richly engrossing narrative that moves quickly and ends too soon.
Part swashbuckling adventure, part richly detailed fantasy universe, part coming of age tale, this rich foray into the Cor Novan Sky Alamanac spans multiple genres. Fifteen-year-old Cyprian understands how to fight the swooping, feathered reptilian Mordonocs that occupy the sky realm of Cor Nova far better than veteran compatriots twice his age. That’s part of why he is almost immediately captured by bandits after a gory fight on the deck of the Grace of the Cedars, who refuse to tell him where they are going. Meanwhile, young Veronica is fighting off predators of a more human variety with only her rapier and her wits in the dangerous metropolis of Misericordiae, a place that Cyprian was grateful to have escaped. But she won’t be alone for long: a third boy named Basil is thrust way out of his comfort zone as a local healer and medic when a battle forces him to leave everything he’s loved and known behind on a quest to get to Misericordiae. How will each of these young people’s fates intertwine, and how will their special abilities and intellectual savvy help them survive in a hostile yet miraculous world?
Part of the joy of this rich tale of adventure is its meticulous internal logic and evocative atmosphere. The first chapter practically assaults the reader with the framework of a yet as unfamiliar world; however, the vividness of the clashes with the Mordonocs, coupled with Cyprian’s own internal struggles and youthful pride, immediately engage both emotionally and on the level of engrossing spectacle. In subsequent chapters, each character’s challenges become inexorably linked with the chaos of the world that surrounds them. The prose itself is detailed and dense and frequently lyrical. On a visit to Misericordiae, Cyprian notes that “there was the bitter tang of vented aether and pulley grease, the sweetness of oranges and sliced green melon drifting over the rooftops from Topgallant Square, the musk of dank alleys and raucous taverns.” While each of the principal characters face compelling internal battles, their experiences in the lushly described exterior world elevate this novel from mere fantasy into a kind of fictional travelogue of a bizarre, alluring world.
PHILOMENA: A TALE FROM THE COR NOVAN SKY ALMANAC is a work of spectacular imagination and intricately worked plot at its finest, combining to form a richly engrossing narrative that moves quickly and ends too soon.