Book Review 2008 #34: Whiskey and Water

Whiskey and Water is the second book in Elizabeth Bear’s Promethean Age novels about a resurgence of Faerie and their conflicts with Mages in modern day NYC.


I loved Blood and Iron, the first book in this series, which was set around a fateful Halloween Night when the power of Faerie was unleashed in a visible and risble way, as conflicts between Faerie and the Promethean Mages, as well as riven divisions within Faerie led to the inescapable revelation to the modern world that Faerie was real, after all.
Of course this conflict has been at great cost for all of its participants, even the winners, and it is seven years later that we take up their stories again. Matthew Szczegielniak still teaches classes and has turned his back on his power. Jane Andraste, Maga, is about the only other Mage in NY of note that’s left. Her half-fae daughter Elaine sits on the painful throne of the Seelie. Whiskey, the water elemental who holds Elaine’s soul is still abroad…
And a series of murders by a Fae introduce us to new characters. Don, the cop who finds a connection with these sorcerous characters. Jewels and Geoff, young kids who quickly get in over their head.
Oh, and Kitten, aka Kit, aka Christopher Marlowe, ready to be released from Hell and walk abroad in Faerie and the world. Oh, and of course, the Devil. More than one, in fact.
And so with the players named, the tale is told and told well. The consequences of conflicts from the first book play out, and in addition to Faerie and the mundane world, Bear introduces us to a third realm in this book–Hell.
The book shouldn’t be read by anyone who hasn’t read B&I (and why haven’t you read that,hmmm?). If anything, the writing of W&W is better, a more mature Bear’s pen’s words here flow like wine. Marlowe is one of Bear’s favorite historical characters, and to see him brought to life in the modern world is a delight, but not the only one to be found in these pages.
After all, having been born and raised there, I was tickled pink that part of the climax, a wizard’s duel, takes place on Staten Island.
I enjoyed Whiskey and Water highly. The 3rd novel in the Promethean Age, Ink and Steel, takes place 400 years earlier, during the rule of Elizabeth I. Will I read it? I already bought it, you betcha.