Cover Image: The Absinthe Earl

The Absinthe Earl

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Member Reviews

3.5 stars

I have to admit that starcrossed lovers isn’t my favorite trope, even more so because it is always connected to the instant love one, and I like this one even less, so I was a bit skeptical about this book.
But rest assured, we get so much more from this book, that this was not a big issue, in the end. Yes, I wasn’t so happy about it, but in the end, it didn’t bugger me too much.

Miss Q. is a good character, and from time to time she reminded me of Alexia Tarabotti. Without the irony and the sharp wit of Carriger’s character, but I was happy to see something reminiscing of her in this new character. She is strong-willed, she is determined and competent in her field. And I think that she is evenly matched with the Earl. He is fascinating, and he is a good person. And this is a thing that I appreciated a lot. And sure, the fact that he is dashing helped along the way, what can I say, I am a shallow girl!

Aside from them, we have some other characters, but they are not so well characterized as the main ones. Duncan, Queen Isolde, and others could have been a bit more developed, but they weren’t just plain, so they were good too. I liked Isolde from the start, even if I somewhat changed my mind during the reading. It’s not that I come to dislike here, but I didn’t like her as much as I was liking her at the beginning of the story. But I think that this is more depending on my personal taste than on any other things. And I hope to see more of Duncan around, because he is an interesting character with the potential to become something more, too!

And let’s not forget about the setting. This story is mainly set in Ireland. I said mainly because our characters are moving both through the real Ireland and the Faery land, but we get to see quite a lot of the ruins and the bogs and it was fascinating. I think that this was a thing that I enjoyed a lot. Even more so, because while I was reading it, comfortably sat on my couch, with a hot mug of scented tea, outside was frigid and rainy. So I get the perfect weather for the reading and it has added something to the experience.

The story was enthralling and never boring. I founded myself more than once starting to read with the intention of reading just a chapter before doing something else, and instead finding myself going into the infamous loop of “just one more page”. And we all know how that would end, right??
Anyway, the story was interesting, and the part about the real history of our world, and the influence of the fairies on that was a point of merit. It is original and it is quite well developed.
I have to confess that I found some things a tad forced, not all flew smoothly if this makes sense to you, but it wasn’t a big issue. I just founded it strange, because this is not the first book of the author, and instead it made me think of a debut book more than once. But this was just a personal feeling, and I have enjoyed the reading nonetheless.

And last, but not least, the sequel is coming out this year, so this is another reason to start this book and lose yourself in these pages!
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I find it very difficult to locate quality, paranormal romance. The Absinthe Earl was a unique story -- paranormal, historical romance in Ireland, with fairies.  I enjoyed the characters journey to understand the magic surrounding them and their developing romance. I'd look for and read more by this author.
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Although the title makes this book sound naughty and decadent, it's more scholarly mystery with a little sex than it is a romp through the absinthe houses of Europe.  Fisher leans heavily upon Irish mythology and adds a twist with alternate universes.  The main characters, mythology scholar Miss Ada Quicksilver and Irish Earl Edward, Lord Meath, are both tied directly to the very myths that Ada has spent much of her life studying.  When they get tangled in a plot to rewrite Irish history in a way that could destroy the country, Ada's studies quickly become a harrowing reality.
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Sharon Lynn Fisher is one of those authors who’s brain I like to camp out in for a day.  She thinks in different directions than most fantasy and sci-fi writers.  Her new book, The Absinthe Earl, is unlike anything I’ve reviewed of hers before. It is predated by her 2016 release of Before She Wakes: Forbidden Fairytales, a collection of dark, short, erotic fairytales which had mixed reviews. I think she shines in the full-length novel where she can fully indulge her imagination.  The book of short stories was the warm-up to her timely release for Halloween of The Absinthe Earl.  It is a full-length novel which dives into the world of the fae folk in an alternative Ireland.  The story is set before the great potato famine of 1845 and Ireland is not under British rule, but rather still has her own monarchy with Queen Isolde, cousin to the Earl of Meath, at its helm and protecting her people. She’s also, maybe, a little crazy.

The Earl of Meath, Edward Donoghue, is plagued by sleepwalking and hallucinations. He’s concerned the madness his cousin exhibits might run in the family. Drinking absinthe seems to keep them both at bay. Absinthe has a natural bright green color and is commonly referred to in historical literature as “la fée verte” or the green fairy. Despite being created in Switzerland for medicinal purposes, its name and color makes it right at home in Ireland. There is aura of illicitness and mystery surrounding absinthe that has earned it a reputation as a mysterious, addictive, and mind-altering drink. 

“Absinthe was traditionally served with water and a cube of sugar.  The sugar cube was placed on an absinthe spoon (a small slotted spoon), and the liquor was drizzled over the sugar into the glass of cold water until the sugar was dissolved and the desired dilution was obtained. The sugar helped take the bitter edge away from the absinthe, and when poured into water, the liquor turned a milky white. The spoons themselves were often works of art, covered with filigree flowers and stars, or shaped like sea shells. Men and women became enthralled with the ritual of presentation as well as with the appearance, taste, and excitement of the liqueur.”

photo of decorative spoons
Absinthe Spoons. Photo credit: https://whatscookingamerica.net/History/Absinthe.html

Ada Quicksilver has silver hair even though she’s a young lady of college age. Folklore says it means she’s marked with fae blood. Having traveled from England to Ireland to do research for her thesis on fairies, she meets Edward at an inn where he is engaged in the absinthe ritual, something she doesn’t question given her location. The meeting is fortuitous because Edward needs her expertise in fairy lore, and she needs his connections to access historical sites to further her research. The two set out on a trip that turns quickly into an adventure neither could have imagined because fairies aren’t real…or are they?

The love story between Ada and Edward is sweet with a certain Victorian propriety.  There are larger forces at work, however, pushing them together.  This is probably my single criticism and that is the few times they are intimate, it felt out of character. As soon as they got dressed, they were back to polite distances.  It almost would have been better if they gave in for the sake of those larger forces and saved their own relationship for after a possible marriage as would have been appropriate for their historical setting.

Maybe because she is a sci-fi writer first, there is a nod to inter-dimensional travel—but in a Peter Pan fantasy kind of way. Overall, it was just a fun read, perfect for when the air crisps, leaves crunch, and spirits come out to play tricks on mortals. I’m thrilled that there are more to come.  This is your one to read as a reward for raking the leaves.

Photo Credit, history, and several absinthe cocktail recipes available at:  https://whatscookingamerica.net/History/Absinthe.html

My Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot
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For some reason this one just can’t hold my attention. I’ve picked it up and put it back down about ten times and only have gotten 25% in. Maybe will try again later.
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I loved the premise and am a huge fan of fairy tales, but I had a lot of trouble connecting with the characters. The writing was whimsical enough, presenting a fun tone for the beginning, but I couldn’t get beyond the first impressions. Thank you for the chance to review!
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I was really looking forward to this book based on the description and my love of Irish folklore but it didn't quite hit the mark.  I really struggled with the main characters having their bodies used against their will in order for the spirits to live out their own desires.  That crossed a line for me and I lost interest quickly after that.  
Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read and review this title.  All opinions are my own.
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Intense paranormal romance filled with fantasy history and wistful intrigue. I enjoyed this book as it was very immersive saga with great world building. I received this book from NetGalley for an honest review.
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I went into this novel with high hope. The synopsis hooked me and I was quite intrigued. Unfortunately this did not pan out well for me. The characters came across somewhat hollow for me. I didn’t find there to be much chemistry nor did the plot have a seamless flow.
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Thanks to NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for a free copy. This is an honest review.

Romance with a sc-fi twist this book had an interesting premise and a promising start. The folklore mentioned was great. Too bad the book got a little disjointed and uninteresting. I originally liked this book but then the characters went from being interested to being in love. There was no build up. I ended up not finishing this book at 60% after over month of trying to finish this book.
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The Irish lord Edward Donoghue, Earl of Meath, consumes absinthe to stave off his sleepwalking, but the liquor has the unintended consequence of causing fairy hallucinations. When he meets Ada Quicksilver, a Celtic mythology scholar from London's Lovelace Academy for Promising Young Women, he begins to entertain the possibility these visions may be due to the overlapping of the living world with the world of Faery. One of these visions seems to herald the young woman's death, so Edward joins Ada in her scholarly exploration of his country in hopes of protecting her. Together they uncover a plot for the takeover of Ireland by the enemies of its most ancient people, the Tuatha De Danaan. In the process, they discover their own connections to a Danaan hero and heroine who want more than anything to use their bodies for a reunion that's been centuries in the making.
I had never heard of this author, but the cover and the description were interesting, so I decided to give it a try. It started off interesting enough, but once Meath was introduced it got a bit different…I liked both main characters, particularly Ada, but Edward was a bit wishy washy. Overall it was ok.
**I voluntarily read and reviewed this book
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Rating:   3.5 faerie stars rounded up to 4 stars

This was a good start to a new paranormal series centering around faeries.  It is a bit of alternative history, steampunk, romance and adventure with all manner of faerie creatures included in the story.  While this started out just a little slow for me, the action soon picked up after our heroine, Ada Quicksilver and hero, Edward Donoghue the Earl of Meath, met in an absinthe bar in 1882 Dublin, Ireland.  An erratic queen rules this Ireland.   The potato famine never occurred, and the faeries have been banished from Ireland for centuries.

What ensues is well-plotted but sometimes confusing world inhabited by all manner of creatures.  Ada and Edward enter the faery world spurred on by their own ancient ancestors who have been star-crossed lovers for centuries.  At first, the recounting of the Irish myths and the world building sometimes distracted from moving the plot along.  However, the deeper I got into the book’s strange world, the more all the elements made sense.   That early information enabled the full understanding of why the story progressed as it did.

I won’t spoil the ending here by giving away main plotlines.  I loved that Ada was nobody’s fool and could stand toe to toe with Edward.  I hate a vapid heroine.  This is a promising start to a new series. Initially I didn’t think that pulling so many different genres together in one book would work, but the author has done a good job of making it work here.

‘Thank-You’ to NetGalley; the publisher, Blackstone Publishing; and the author, Sharon Lynn Fisher; for providing a free e-ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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It has been some time since I’ve read a novel heavily influenced by mythology and with faeries and I’m glad I had the opportunity to read and review this! In any sort of fantasy world, I require a lot of world-building to feel immersed and Fisher really managed to craft a fascinating setting for Ada and Edward’s story to unfold. Fisher has a talent for gorgeous description, from setting to clothing, I was able to picture everything perfectly.

This is an engaging, fast-paced adventure and romance and yet my interest started to flag around halfway through. I think I would have had an easier time hanging with the story if I had a deeper understanding of Celtic Mythology. I felt a bit overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information and it was still being introduced ¾ of the way through the book. 

Additionally, I struggled with the overly formal language. While I know it makes sense for historical fiction, I couldn’t help wishing for the language to relax as they got to know each other. As it was, the passionate scenes seemed out of place and I couldn’t accurately gauge Ada and Edward's feelings for each other. 

I do recommend this book, particularly for fans of Celtic Mythology and the more formal historical romances. The descriptions alone are gorgeous and the Irish setting was particularly enchanting. I’m looking forward to seeing where Fisher takes the story in the next book!

**Reviews posted to Amazon, B&N, Bookbub, Goodreads, and DreamComeReview
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I'm going to be completely honest: I had an extremely difficult time getting the smallest bit invested in this story, and once I was able to get drawn in, there were moments I strongly considered throwing in the towel. I probably should have just admitted defeat, as it took me quite a few days of struggling to finish. This is not to say that the story was frustrating or made me angry, I think many others will find that they connect better with the writing, especially if they are into Celtic mythology. However for me, there was something missing that made it difficult to care for the characters.

At the start of the book, we meet Ada Quicksilver, a student at Lovelace Academy for Promising Young Women. She studies Celtic mythology and she's researching abroad in Ireland for her thesis on the "gentle folk" (or the fae.) More specifically, whether or not the highly potent liquor Absinthe really does have a connection to the sightings and stories. She meets Edward Donoghue, earl of Meath in a bar one night and he's behaving very strangely. She isn't sure if it's wise to take him up on his invitation to visit a burial mound in Newgrange, but she can't resist the temptation of such a rare wealth of information she could find there. I should have felt some excitement or thrill over their first interaction, but sadly their formal and polite dialogue was so incredibly dry. It did nothing towards the development of creating intriguing characters that I would want to know more about. There was a definite bland and generic quality that made their personalities feel lacking.

One of the things I did like was the fact that Ada was a self-supported woman and independent for her time. It was rare that a woman was not financially dependent on anyone else, and the fact that she was such a scholar at that level was refreshing to read. In the beginning I thought she may be a little bit mousy or timid, but as the book wore on, she really came out of her shell more and displayed a huge amount of courage. She went on the trip with Edward believing it would be a simple detour on her vacation, having no idea what kinds of shocking revelations would be revealed along the way. Or how she was tied to this man in ways she couldn't imagine.

I have a huge weakness for fae fantasy, but it seems I've finally found one that didn't excite me the way I had hoped. The heavy Celtic mythology that lost me along the way, but I think someone who has a love for the subject or at least a fascination with it will find this the perfect book for them. The mystery regarding Edward's sleepwalking and blackouts had a bizarre, though original explanation. I can't say I've seen anything remotely like that in a book before, so I give the author credit where it's due.

Overall, I thought the plot was highly creative, and though I didn't fall in love with the story it did have a pretty exciting conclusion in the end. I'm glad I stuck it out to see how it all came together.
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Having been to Ireland in the past year, the premise for this book really drew me in.  Irish lords, the Fey, some romance... I was really hoping for a fun faerie story set in Ireland.  But, I should have guessed by the cover that this was more of a hunky Lord bodice-ripper (i.e. erotic fiction) than fantasy historical fiction.  That being said, this was a fun little romp in the hay.

What I Liked:

Irish Folklore: 

I really enjoyed the use of all the Irish myths and folklore.  The author must have spent considerable time researching this to incorporate these legends into the faerie characters.  Each plays an important role in the war between the Fomorians (ancient foes of the Fey) and the Irish. 

Characters:

I liked all of the Irish characters, particularly the Irish Queen, Isolde.  She is a totally made-up character (as the last king of Ireland ruled in the late twelfth-century), but so fun and fearless, that I wanted to believe she was a real person. But all the Irish characters reminded me of why I loved visiting the Emerald Isle.  They were all friendly, open people.  No wonder Ada felt so at ease there.

Faerie Story:

The story centers around how each of the central Irish characters has an alter-ego historical Fey spirit who inhabits them.  I loved the concept of their ancestors taking over their bodies to replay ancient rivalries and passions.

What I Was Mixed About:

There was something that really bothered me about the story.  I wish the author had made it clear earlier in the novel that this is an alternate reality Ireland.  I was wondering why there was no mention of British oppression or even the terrible Irish potato famine of the mid-eighteen hundreds.  Then, about a third of the way in, it became apparent that this Ireland had seen none of those hardships.  While this served the story well, it also took away some of the core elements of what has shaped the Irish spirit.

What I Didn't Like:

Generally speaking, I am not a fan of erotic fiction.  I just think it doesn't add much to the story to include a blow by blow of who touched whom where.  But in the case of this historical fiction, it seemed completely implausible to have Ada, a young, orphaned student, fall into bed with a relative stranger.  Even in an alternate reality, she would be labeled a wanton woman.  And that would be not just scandalous, but disastrous for a single woman at that time.

FYI:  Explicit sex scenes.
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The Absinthe Earl by Sharon Lynn Fisher is a historical fantasy romance that brings in elements of Celtic mythology. Ada, a Trinity College student, is researching the connections between drinking absinthe and seeing the fey when she meets Lord Edward who happens to see a banshee near her as she interviews him. Lord Edward is determined to save her from the potential death threat that the banshee represents, so he asks for her to help him on a job for the queen and on that mission they uncover a bigger threat to the wider world. Fisher's world-building is my favorite aspect of this series opener. It's clear that she's done a lot of research with all of the detail in Ada's world, plus all of the Irish mythology that it features. The romance stuff wasn't really for me, but I liked Ada and Lord Edward together especially their banter. Overall, I liked The Absinthe Earl but I would have preferred it to be a little heavier on the fantasy than on the romance. I am looking forward to reading book two of The Faery Rehistory series from Sharon Lynn Fisher, it could become a favorite.
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I love paranormal/historical fiction novels of all kinds, but I really enjoy one with an interesting romance. The Absinthe Earl features a heroine in Ireland researching the tall tales and myths of the faery. She has a chance meeting in a pub with a man who knows all too much about what she seeks. 

Ada Quicksilver is in Dublin to discover why the faeries have all disappeared in Ireland. Her research leads her to visiting several absinthe bars and in one she meets the Earl of Meath, cousin of Queen Isolde and a man who has his own interests in faeries, for reasons. They end up on a trip together to an ancient faery mound and this is where the easy flow of the story starts to get a bit more difficult to follow. 

There is a reference at the beginning of the book with Irish/Fae names and terms, but I still had a bit of a time following along. I did enjoy these characters interactions, but the dialogue felt a bit stilted at times. But overall I did enjoy this story and look forward to reading more in this world.
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This was a great historical urban fantasy romance, with an alternate historical setting and strong ties to Irish mythology and history. I could see fans of Moning’s Fae series enjoying this.
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Fast paced and nicely written. I wanted something more from the characters though. Still it was an interesting read.
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"They crossed centuries to find each other. Their love will shatter worlds.

Miss Ada Quicksilver, a student of London's Lovelace Academy for Promising Young Women, is spending her holiday in Ireland to pursue her anthropological study of fairies. She visits Dublin's absinthe bars to investigate a supposed association between the bittersweet spirit and fairy sightings.

One night a handsome Irishman approaches her, introducing himself as Edward Donoghue. Edward takes absinthe to relieve his sleepwalking, and she is eager to hear whether he has experience with fairies. Instead, she discovers that he's the earl of Meath, and that he will soon visit a mysterious ruin at Newgrange on the orders of his cousin, the beautiful, half-mad Queen Isolde. On learning about Ada's area of study, he invites her to accompany him.

Ada is torn between a sensible fear of becoming entangled with the clearly troubled gentleman and her compelling desire to ease his suffering. Finally she accepts his invitation, and they arrive in time for the winter solstice. That night, the secret of Edward's affliction is revealed: he is, in fact, a lord in two worlds and can no longer suppress his shadow self.

Little does either of them realize that their blossoming friendship and slowly kindling passion will lead to discoveries that wrench open a door sealed for centuries, throwing them into a war that will change Ireland forever."

I love how reality and folklore are so entwined in Ireland, and this book makes a good case for that to continue.
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