Written by Christopher Golden
Published by Spectra
Our first introduction to the land where the myths of mankind were very much real and in serious trouble, The Myth Hunters (review), was a great example of author Christopher Golden’s ability to cross multiple genres with ease, from horror to fantasy to science fiction and back again, blending them together in way that seemed effortless. The follow-up story, The Borderkind (the second of three planned books that take place in the world beyond The Veil) goes even farther into this genre cross-pollination, though this book is decidedly darker in tone throughout.
During Myth Hunters we meet New England attorney Oliver Bascombe on the night before his wedding, when he is whisked away to the world beyond The Veil by the heart of winter himself, Jack Frost, on the run from a creature who was sent to destroy all myths. The book ended with Oliver preparing to confront the leaders of the Two Kingdoms, which rule this parallel world, in order to lift the death sentence that was placed on him the moment it was discovered he could cross between the worlds, something normal humans are not able to do.
Borderkind sees Oliver splitting from the group of legendary creatures he spent most of Myth Hunters with, setting off with only Kitsune, a beautiful shape-shifting fox woman, in order to both guarantee his freedom and rescue his sister, who’s being held captive by the Sandman, another creature of legend who, as of late, has taken to stealing the eyes of human children while they sleep. The legendary creatures, meanwhile, set out to discover who is behind the plot to destroy the creatures of myth, meeting their own painful obstacles along the way.
During Borderkind the similarities to J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Two Towers were obvious if not unintentional; a group of travelers untied in the first epic tale must separate to face down new horrors on their own. As it worked in Towers (and please don’t think I’m comparing the author’s writing styles, they are apples and oranges, rather the overall structure) so it does in Borderkind, just with less singing. Of course, the very world is not at stake in Golden’s books (at least not yet), but the plot is, as they say, thickening quite a bit as the tale unfolds.
As previously stated Borderkind is noticeably darker than Myth Hunters, mainly because a lot of the wide-eyed wonder that the characters experienced in the first book has been tainted by how cruel this world of myths can be, but also because there is a lot more at stake this time out. The myths (Frost, Indian legend Blue Jay and others astute readers may recognize from stories in their youth) are on the run from certain death, coming face to face with it multiple times and never coming out unscathed. Oliver and Kitsune experience a whole new set of problems when the word starts spreading that Oliver and his sister may be a Legend-Born, the result of a coupling between a myth and a human, who are the subject of prophecies in the world of the myths. To top it off Oliver’s fiancé has found a way to follow Oliver across the veil along with a troubled detective, who was hired to find Bascombe, neither of which are exactly met with open arms when they enter the world of legend.
Though there are multiple storylines running at once, you’ll never be lost as to who’s doing what or what situation you’re in thanks to Golden’s firm grasp on his characters and their histories, not to mention the wildly different settings our heroes find themselves within. It helps to keep Borderkind rolling at a great clip, building to an ending that you’ll likely have a hard time putting down once you get to it because a lot of things change as it unfolds. Needless to say the third book is going to be very different for it’s own reasons.
The only complaint I would bring against Borderkind has to do with both Oliver and his fiancé on his trail. We spend a lot of time in both character’s heads and it is then that Golden’s inclination for overly romanticized musings kick into high gear. I found my eyes beginning to roll now and then as Oliver dealt with his conflicting emotions towards the woman he was going to marry and the supernatural fox creature he was traveling with, which would always lead to drawn-out instances of thoughts of love and devotion that tilted towards the overdramatic. Of course, I’m not traversing a strange world full of myths and monsters with a shape-shifting creature of Japanese legend, so perhaps it’s all about context.
I’m really looking forward to the third (final?) book in this series now that so much has changed and I’m sure Golden will deliver on what is hinted at in the ending of Borderkind and then some. As long as he can tone down the lovey-dovey stuff (as it is referred to in the professional writer’s world), I can see this series ending leaving a lasting mark on everyone who picks it up.
4 out of 5
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