A series of mysterious deaths is shocking Regency London. Eligible young ladies are dying in their sleep, and in the morning the western window is found open - leading some to speculate that faeries, particularly the cruel kind called sluagh, are responsible.
Elias Wilder, Lord Sorcier of England, certainly believes this to be the case, but while he is willing to do battle with Lord Longshadow, the most important and powerful of the sluagh, he believes that his eighteen year old ward, Abigail, should not, and would, in fact, be safer in the faerie realm.
Abigail does not agree, and sets off on her own investigation into the latest death - that of Miss Lucy Kendall - and encounters a strange young woman, dressed as a laundress, who is also searching for Lucy, or at least her ghost.
This is the second of Olivia Atwater's Regency Faerie Tales that I've read, and is again a delightful, whimsical mix of historical (lesbian) romance and faerie magic, with the extra twist of a murder mystery thrown in too. The main character, Abigail, is one of the Workhouse children rescued in Half a Soul, and here we find her a few years older, exploring her magical powers, and discovering love in a way that she feels is very unconventional, but which Mercy assures her has existed forever.
Magic abounds, as you would expect in a story set partially in Faeryland. There are magical dances in Kensington Gardens, and ballgowns spun out of midnight, but just as Half A Soul had its darker side with explorations of the workhouse system and the apathy of most people towards its conditions, so too does Longshadow, with its look at our attitude towards death. There's the inevitable grief which turns even Lucy's stuck-up mother into someone deserving compassion, but alos Abigail and Mercy think differently about death itself. One maintaining that we should battle against it as long as possible; the other believing that there's a point as which enough is enough, and we should retire from life gracefully. It seems a slightly weird topic to encounter in what is to all intents a 'lightweight' story, but it gives depth and a contrast to the magical world of faery.