In these times of seclusion it’s a great relief to immerse yourself in a good book, and perhaps we’ve never been so primed for a fantasy novel like Comet Weather, by Liz Williams, as we are right now. We too operate in a liminal state much like the multiple protagonists of this novel.
The story revolves around four Fallow sisters: Bee, Stella, Serena, and Luna who have been raised in a large house known as Mooncote in Somerset, which is inherently magical. In typical English fashion, it’s a subtle, reserved but pervasive magic which affects each of the sisters variously – they all had different fathers. Bee is the person in charge of the household since their mother Alys suddenly went missing a year earlier.
The sisters are scattered and consumed with their own careers and problems, but they are used to receiving unexpected omens and ghostly visitors, and soon they are ushered home to Mooncote. The most unusual unearthly residents of Mooncote are the Star Spirits – manifestations of celestial powers which are appearing more frequently now that a comet is heralded for late autumn. Dark, sinister forces begin to attack the house and the sisters, forcing them to tap into their latent abilities and understand the bonds between each other and the landscape they inhabit. They battle to understand their legacy and retrieve their mother from her magical sojourn.
The book begins at a gentle pace but slowly gathers speed until the sisters and their partners are forced into dangerous parallel realms and rapid transformations to confront chthonic forces and eerie predators. The story demonstrates a deep understanding of the folk horror roots of English magical practices and the glamour and peril of wyrd traditions. And there are plenty of reimagined ideas and fresh characters to entice the readers.
If there’s any justice in the reading world Comet Weather by Liz Williams will eventually be hailed as a classic English Fantasy novel, in the manner of Cooper’s The Dark is Rising or Holdstock’s Mythago Wood.
I’m eagerly waiting to read the sequel, Blackthorn Winter.