Ratings: Violence—4; Sensuality—4+; Humor—2
Publisher and Titles: Jove
Autumn Thorns (11/2015)
|The Olympic Peninsula|
The heroine, Kerris Fellwater, is a spirit shaman who has returned to Whisper Hollow after the death of her grandparents. Almost immediately, she is drawn into the mysterious affairs of this spooky little town. Her protector and lover is a shapeshifting wolf (not a werewolf, but a shapeshifter—apparently, there's a difference, but that difference is not explained). Kerris can communicate with the dead. As she explains, "I connect with the dead. I can talk to them, see them, and drive them back to their graves if they get out of hand….Because in Whisper Hollow, the dead don't always stay put where you plant them." She can also see, feel, and manipulate energy, using various herbs, powders, and magical tools.
Whisper Hollow has two secret societies:
The Crescent Moon Society (aka CMS; followers of the Morrígan): They investigate magical crimes and support the spirit shaman.
Cú Chulainn's Hounds (followers of Cú Chulainn): They oppose the CMS and are suspected of murdering previous spirit shamans.
Here is a partial list of the supporting characters:
The Morrígan: She is the "Night Mare Queen, and Goddess of Sovereignty, Queen of Shapeshifters and Mother of the Fae, culls the dead from the battlefield and gathers them to her, under the embrace of her feathered cloak…She is mother to the Crow Man, who haunts the woodlands, surrounded by a murder of crows, carrying her messages to those to whom she would speak." She is the matriarch of the spirit shamans, all of whom are women born with a black birthmark in the shape of a crow standing on a crescent moon.
Bryan Tierney: Kerris' wolf-shapeshifter protector and guardian who soon becomes her lover and mate.
Ellia Volkov: Kerris' lament singer (a daughter of the Bean Sidhes—aka banshees). She sings and plays her violin to assist Kerris in her spirit shaman duties. Ellia always wears gloves because anyone she touches skin-to-skin will become permanently insane.
Mae Stonecross: Kerris' great-grandmother, a spirit shaman. Deceased.
Lila Fellwater: Kerris' grandmother, daughter of Mae. She was also a spirit shaman. Recently deceased.
Duvall Fellwater: Lila's husband; Kerris' grandfather (but is he?) Recently deceased.
Aidan: Lila's lion-shapeshifter boyfriend (when they were teenagers). Lila forced him to leave Whisper Hollow for mysterious reasons.
Tamil Fellwater: Kerris' mother, missing since Kerris was three years old. She was supposed to inherit the spirit shaman position from Lila, but when she disappeared, the job fell to Kerris
Avery Forrester: Kerris' shapeshifter father, missing since before Kerris was born
Ivy Primrose: Avery's shapeshifter mother—Kerris' grandmother (although Kerris doesn't learn this fact until the second chapter of Autumn Thorns).
Oriel: Another magical person whose role is not made completely clear in the first novel. She is a member of the CMS.
Peggin: Kerris' best friend, who is 100% human, although she does appear to have some psychic abilities.
The Lady: A spirit who lives in Lake Crescent and is prone to dragging people to their deaths in her cold, deep waters.
Penelope Volkov: She was a former resident of the town whose spirit returned to become Mistress of the Veil. She lives in the Veil and helps spirits cross to the other side. She and Kerris work together to transport souls.
Veronica: She was also a former resident of the town whose spirit returned to become a queen among the Unliving (corporeal spirits who cross back from the Veil with personal agendas, often harming the living). The Unliving hate spirit shamans. She has a lair near the town cemetery. Apparently, she is a cranky, troublesome spirit, but her precise role in the mythology is not explicitly explained in Autumn Thorns, and she never makes a personal appearance in that book.
Magda Volkov: Mother of Ellia and Penelope. She is a powerful witch descended from Baba Volkov (Mother Wolf Witch), a nemesis of the Russian spirit masters ruled by Morena (who is the Russian equivalent to the Celtic Morrígan).