Sarah Monette's debut fantasy, MŽlusine, is the first half of a wonderful long novel (the second book comes out next year). Felix Harrowgate and Mildmay the Fox were raised (separately) as the lowest of the low. Felix finds a mentor, Malkar, who changes him until Felix can pass as highborn. Malkar, however, has long-range plans to bring down the Melusine government and uses Felix as his passkey into the most sacred and magical halls. From here on, Felix is a passive man to whom things happen including a fall from grace, a stay at a nightmarish asylum and a journey outside the only city and country he has ever known. Mildmay, meanwhile, is a violent cat burglar who, despite his youth, has gained the respect and fear of those in the street. His eventual meeting with Felix and the discoveries they make about one another are predictable, but it is a testament to Monette's skill that she can keep the reader going until then. Monette mixes British and American slang from the 19th century and the present day to come up with an inventive and enjoyable mongrel language. MŽlusine is a strong debut which suffers only from a lack of resolution so that the reader is left stranded like Mildmay, waiting to see what will happen next. Gavin J. Grant runs Small Beer Press in Northampton, Massachusetts.

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