The Other Covenant
The central focus of this novel, Elizabeth Mitchell, is both a psychologist and a magical enforcer. She is sworn to track down magical malefactors and prevent them from doing further harm. This doesn’t set her apart from other heroines in the popular urban fantasy genre. It’s actually her opponents that are unusual. Caroline Crosby hasn’t taken refuge in the current formulas of urban fantasy. There are no purely evil villains of demonic origin, nor do they shamble through the streets as soulless zombies. Instead she presents us with fully developed human characters who have backgrounds, and motivations for their actions.
There is also a romance dimension to The Other Covenant involving two couples. I found the portrayal of these relationships touching and compelling. These romances made me care more about the characters without overwhelming the story line.
The historical aspect was not so well handled. In alternating chapters, portions of a manuscript appear detailing the history of a secret organization of magical adepts called The Covenant. The early sections of this manuscript aren’t engaging, and slow the pace of the book. Once the historical narrative reaches the lifetime of the manuscript’s author detailing his own experiences, the writing feels more immediate and the novel as a whole begins to have more impact. It seems to me that a few flashbacks to key events in the earlier history of the Covenant from the perspectives of the participants would have been more dramatic.
It’s a shame that the pace drags in the first half of The Other Covenant because there’s so much to like in the second half. Readers who have patience will be rewarded by a truly satisfying resolution.