Strangehold (Crossroads of Worlds Book 1)
Rene Sears, author
Morgan Tenpenny has retreated from her painful, magical past, choosing to live quietly as a guardian of one of the gates between worlds. But her sister Gwen is married to a lord of the High Court of Faerie—and when Gwen asks her to protect her nieces, it's time for Morgan to emerge from her seclusion. The gates to Faerie have inexplicably closed, and no one knows why, not even Falcon, the fae Morgan finds trapped on her side of the gate. As a devastating illness that only affects magic users starts to sweep through the country, Falcon tells Morgan of a way to reach her nieces in Faerie through a mysterious place called Strangehold—if Morgan can trust that Falcon is all that he seems. But with the Queen of Faerie increasingly defensive of her borders, even their combined powers may not be enough to win them through. With relations between fae and human falling apart and a deadly illness threatening all of her old colleagues, Morgan finds that her past isn't as dead as she'd thought. She must navigate the threats in time to save her nieces—and just maybe the world.
Sears’s page-turning debut is a contemporary fantasy in which human magic-wielders (or casters) and magical fae live among mortals. Both are aware of portals, or “feygates” to the faery world “underhill,” from the world “overhill” (Earth). Caster Morgan Tenpenny lives on the border of Georgia and Alabama, while her sister Gwen lives underhill with her faery husband and their two daughters. Faeries and casters maintain an uneasy truce, but when a mysterious, fatal disease spreads among casters, the gates to underhill are abruptly and inexplicably sealed. After Gwen contacts Morgan and asks her to take the girls to overhill to protect them from what’s happening in underhill, Morgan searches for a way to reach them, and for the source of the disease, with help from a handsome faery named Falcon who’s been trapped overhill. Together, they find a hidden gate in Atlanta that leads to a magical, in-between region called Strangehold. The worldbuilding comes rapidly, but the author balances it with solid characters and skillful descriptions (“She looked carved from moonlight”). These elements, combined with a bit of romance, will enchant fantasy fans. (BookLife)