★★★★ The Melody of Three is the first book in S.D. Reeves’ Evercharm Trilogy, a spunky, sprawling tale that follows Inspector Christaan De Rein as he attempts to unravel a magical mystery and save both his order and his world from utter destruction. After returning to Liverpool to answer a pressing summons, De Rein discovers that the Forum Magicae, a place of protection and scholarship where the magically gifted meet, has been infiltrated by dark forces. Now, the inspector has only a few remaining allies he can turn to, including a bumbling assistant named Higgins, who has a constant knack for needing resurrecting, and an ex-lover, Sofie, whose expertise in forbidden magics can hopefully give De Rein the edge he needs. Meanwhile, a fairy named Niena is hiding out in another world with her grandfather, and a pair of elves prowls the streets, attacking anyone with fairy blood, though why, or to what end, no one knows. As De Rein is soon to discover, Niena’s fate is tied to an ageless instrument, the Evercharm, which is infused with the power to create and destroy—a power that many would kill for.
Reeves writes with both the mechanical acuity of Shakespeare and the warm, wry wit of Terry Pratchett. A strong mythos surrounds his characters, while smart touches of craft create a setting so similar to our own Earth, yet so strikingly different. De Rein is undeniably the star of the show, his dapper manner fitting in nicely with the posh environs of magical Liverpool. The text itself is rich with poetic turns of phrase, which further enhance the general feeling of ethereality that ebbs and flows throughout the novel. This is an exquisitely written start to a new fantasy series that demonstrates the dangers of an irresistible distraction. After all, a world with this many moments of quiet beauty is bound to carry just as many mortal hazards.