What a story! I thoroughly enjoyed Sharon Lynn Fisher’s The Absinthe Earl, much more than I thought I would. While I love fantasy like Harry Potter, it’s not a genre that I generally go for, but I’m glad I picked up this book.
Indeed, I thought it was going to be like one of those froo-froo, cheesy romance novels with the half naked guy on the cover at the grocery store, but this story had substance, and that’s super refreshing. Perhaps more surprisingly, it maintained substance while still being an enjoyable, quick, romantic read–I finished it in a day, it was so difficult to put down!
Also difficult was all the Celtic/Gaelic names and places, however. This story takes place in 1882 Ireland and follows Ada Quicksilver and the Earl of Meath who, spoiler alert, are interested in studying fairies, a topic that hits closer to home than they might have ever imagined! I know, it sounds like it’s going to be cheesy, froo-froo B.S., but I promise, there’s more to it than just fairies and romance. Quicksilver is a super sharp woman who is constantly underestimated, and she is definitely one of, if not the hero of the fantastical fairy battle and indeed the whole novel. She’s independent and even though she develops a crush (and then some) on the Earl, she totally doesn’t need him and indeed teaches him throughout the story.
I’d also like to make a quick note here–it’s pretty evident that Fisher went through a lot of time and effort to make sure that she paid tribute to both Irish history and Irish folklore/mythology. Obviously, some people/places/things were bent or re-imagined in order to fit this story, but I really appreciated what work must have gone into researching this story.
That said, while I love a strong, independent female character, I kinda enjoyed the parts of the book narrated from the Earl’s point of view a little bit more. I don’t know, there was obviously a different personality than Quicksilver’s, and something about it was just slightly more appealing to me.
Oh yeah, this is yet another book that shifts focalization between the main characters (check out this Boleyn book for another example of this literary hack). I really liked that the author actually identified whose perspective I was reading from–one of my personal pet peeves is when the focalization shifts but I don’t notice right away, so then I have to reread that section to better understand what just happened from the correct character’s perspective.
I honestly didn’t think I’d like this book as much as I did, so if you’re not super big on fantasy or romance, or shoot, even historical fiction, this might not seem like the book for you, but I think it’s worth a chance. It’s a quick and enjoyable read with a solid plot and a satisfying ending, so you likely won’t finish it wanting more.
That’s all I’ve got for now; I love receiving recommendations for books, if you’ve got one, I’ll see about working it into my lineup!
Keep an eye out next week for my post on The Dollmaker by Nina Allan.