I had a great time reading [b:Elfland|6276214|Elfland (Aetherial Tales, #1)|Freda Warrington|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1312032095s/6276214.jpg|6459697], and also enjoyed [b:Midsummer Night|8539063|Midsummer Night (Aetherial Tales, #2)|Freda Warrington|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1312020489s/8539063.jpg|13406609], so was looking forward to this one. But despite a promising beginning, this book soon lost me and became a drag to finish.
Grail of the Summer Stars is a more direct sequel to both Elfland and Midsummer Night than the latter is to the former, although it could still be understood in isolation. It introduces a new protagonist, Stevie, who begins the book as curator of a metalwork museum, and returns to Mistangamesh from Midsummer Night. I was initially drawn into Stevie's story and intrigued by the mysteries that confront her. Around halfway through, though, it becomes a save-the-world sort of fantasy novel, and falls increasingly into cliché.
Whether you like this installment may depend on what you liked about the previous ones. For me the heart of the earlier books was the interpersonal relationships, and the fantasy aspect added some fun spice. This book is very heavy on the fantasy elements, and I found the characters hard to believe in or care about, perhaps because those fantasy elements define the key characters’ psychologies. Mist was a particular problem for me--he’s such a generic love interest (of the hot 30,000-year-old reincarnated dude variety) that I never believed in him or found him interesting, and thus had no investment in his romance with Stevie. Meanwhile, many of the characters’ crucial choices make little sense (“okay, I’ll help you destroy the world if you let my friends go”.... that makes sense how? If the world is destroyed, your friends still die). Warrington can write normal human life and relationships well, but perhaps because of the enormity of what’s at stake here, much of the book fell into clunkiness and cliché, and the more I read, the less invested I was.
Many of Warrington’s quirks from previous books also return here, and annoyed me more than they had in the past: the sexualized or just plain sexual sibling relationships I figured Warrington must be an only child, and checked her website to make sure: fortunately she is, so we don't have to worry about where these creepy relationships are coming from
; the recurring idea that people who commit crimes ought to just be forgiven and anyone who tries to bring them to justice is at best misguided; the tendency of characters to wear their hearts on their sleeves even when that’s not supposed to be their personality.
But, while this book was definitely not what I was hoping for, you might enjoy it more, particularly if you like save-the-world plots, non-human protagonists and books that are heavy on the fantasy elements. Warrington still writes good imagery and humorous British dialogue, and the writing style and pacing are similar to the previous books in the series. Still, for me it was a disappointment.