So begins the chant in the middle of PETER PAN to save Tinkerbell from dying. In Tiffany Trent's first book of the HALLOWMERE series, IN THE SERPENT'S COILS, you had better believe in fairies or you may find yourself dead.
The book opens to find Corrine, our heroine, deathly ill at her Uncle's home. She finds out that her beloved mother has died, and her father had died a few years before while fighting on the side of the North in the Civil War. She hardly knows her uncle and she quickly gets on his bad side.
While there at his home she starts having nightmares of the Fey, which are very confusing. She doesn't obey her uncle and gets sent to Falston, a boarding school for girls. The girls here are mostly unwanted. They get sent to Falston for many reasons, but mainly because their families don't want them. At Falston, they are treated like they are criminals.
They are locked in their rooms at night and are escorted wherever they go. The dreams that Corrine had in Virginia are now intensified. She is haunted by the Fey and is confused about who to trust, the witches who run the school, the priest, the very handsome groundskeeper who keeps saving her, and, of course, the Fey.
Things are not as they seem and the action is plentiful. This was a well-written and quite enjoyable story. It gave me some nice shivers and is the perfect fall book.
In the Serpent's Coils is the first book of the Hallowmere series, my most recent forray into fantasy novels with truly cheesy cover art.
Although I read Tiffany Trent's debut in record time, I had the feeling throughout that I'd somehow traveled this road before. Maybe it's just that when you get stuck on a specific genre (and I'll admit, I've read quite a few books along this same vein lately), they all seem to run together. But this book reminded me so strongly of Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle books, it was sometimes confusing.
In this introduction to the Hallowmere series, we meet the young heroine, Corrine. The novel opens with Corrine awakening from the augue (swamp fever) in post-Civil War Washington DC. Her father never returned from serving the Union army, and her battlefield nurse mother has died of the same disease that sickened Corrine. Orphaned, she is sent to live with her estranged uncle William, who informs the 16-year-old that he has no use or affection for children, and basically to stay out of his way.
Corrine is a curious and bright girl, so she quickly gets herself into trouble by meddling in Uncle Williams affairs and losing a precious artifact. As punishment, she is promptly sent away to a reformatory school for young ladies south of the Mason-Dixon line. More prison than school, her new home is filled with less-than-friendly classmates, strange teachers and haunting visions and dreams that begin almost immediately upon her arrival. Corrine spends this first book of the series learning about the history of the war with the Fae, her role in the battle against the unhallowed and of the Fairy Prince's strange fascination with her.
Overall, I enjoyed the book, but I wouldn't call it a must-read. I plan to read the rest of the series (because I happen to have them on-hand), but I'm not BURNING to know what happens next. I'd call In the Serpent's Coils a pleasant -- if somewhat predictable -- journey over familiar literary territory. Fans of Libba Bray or Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely series will enjoy Trent's take on the "friends under the hill", and if nothing else, it's a quick read that doesn't require a lot of brainpower. Sometimes, that's the formula for the perfect literary escape!
The Civil War has come to an end, but Corrine's nightmares are just beginning. Her parents have passed away, and her dreams are filled with fairies warning her of looming danger. Her uncle, unsure of how to keep her out of trouble, sends her to Falston Manor. He hopes that at Falston Manor they can keep her out of harm's way, but no one is safe at the school for girls.
Her dreams become more powerful while at the school, and she also finds hidden letters written by a monk. He's written these to his love about the fey and his friendship with them. Mystifying events happen at the school; like missing girls, a man known as "The Captain" seems to be following her, and secret meetings held by witches. Corrine needs to figure out who she can trust at the school before she's the next girl to go missing.
I really enjoyed In the Serpent's Coils. The language and use of words fits wonderfully into the post Civil War era of the book. I enjoyed Corrine because she was daring. Even when she was most afraid she didn't let that hold her back from finding more clues or following a lead to the mystery behind the Fey and Falston Manor. Tiffany Trent's Hallowmere Series has been a success, and I can see why with the first book in this series. I'm looking forward to reading book two, By Venom's Sweet Sting.