Tim Lebbon continues to impress with the second instalment in the Relics trilogy. Once again returning to the lives of Angela and Vince, now on the run from the authorities following the dramatic conclusion to the previous book, The Folded Land shifts the focus away from the familiar, cramped streets of London to the expansive countryside of the United States.
Trying to keep away from the notice of police and law enforcement, Angela Gough, the former criminology student, is once again drawn into the mystical and frightening world of the Kin when her niece Sammi goes missing.
After being struck by lightning twice, Sammi is whisked away by a mysterious wraith-like figure and guided across north America towards what she is told is her deceased mother, but is actually a creature of ancient and unimaginable power. Trying to find her niece before something worse happens to her, Angela and her fiance Vince are once again joined by the alluring Lilou and gangster Frederick Meloy, who are on the trail of a vicious Kin killer, who may also have Sammi in his sights.
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The Folded Land is a sequel in the truest of terms. It takes the world created in the first book, Relics, and keeps on building, showing readers new and wondrous parts of the universe that weren’t even hinted at before. We learn of the various factions of Kin, and that they are not all working together. We discover that America has its own Kin that are unique to that continent and part of their mythology, such as the Mothman and a Kooshdakhaa. And we learn the shocking news that some Kin have become human over the centuries, and even bred with regular people.
The world of the Kin in the first book was like the setting. It was old and full of history, but it was also small. One tiny location, with dark alleys and hidden tunnels. But The Folded Land expands its horizons significantly, and has grander goals in its storytelling. The change of setting and the bigger threat to our heroes reflects this well. The story moves with a much faster pace than the first book, and conveys the sense of urgency that the characters are feeling, and the race that they are in.
That’s not to say that the story doesn’t have the same attention to characters that Relics had. Instead of focusing the majority of the narrative on Angel with a few jumps over to other characters The Folded Land feels much more like an ensemble piece, where many more characters are given moments of focus and time in the spotlight.
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Several new characters join returning favourites this time around, both human and Kin. The Kin killer Gregor is particularly fascinating, and is given plenty of time in the limelight. He’s remorseless and evil, willing to kill anyone or anything that gets between him and his goals. Whilst there are many creatures in the book that would be considered monsters, Gregor is probably the closest to being one, despite being human. This is a trait that Lebbon has visited before in the series, where the criminal Mary Rock proved to be the worst character in the book – no small feat considering she was competing with a psychotic Nephilim and a Satyr that tortures people with the bones of its victims.
The Folded Land is a great follow on to Relics. It takes the characters on a bigger, more dangerous quest. It expands the world and presents the readers with wonders. The characters evolve in new and interesting ways, and the new additions to the cast are a joy, even those with relatively small page time. The perfect sequel to the first book that is sure to keep fans delighted.
The Edge – the conclusion to Tim Lebbon’s Relics trilogy (Relics, The Folded Land, The Edge) – is out now from Titan books.