C.E. Murphy has delighted me for years, and the Truthseeker world shows all the signs of doing the same. Certain elements are familiar enough from the Walker Papers series to make this right in Murphy’s sweet spot while in other ways, Truthseeker takes a huge leap into the unknown. Like Joanne, Lara Jansen is unaware of the true extent of her abilities. Unlike Walker Papers, though, acceptance is not an issue, and the development of those abilities is quick and strong. Lara enters the story going through her life with the knowledge that she cannot stomach lies, a knack that leads her to a cautious, isolated existence because it’s the rare friend who can understand, and enjoy, that ability.
Everything turns upside down though when she meets a man she’s attracted to but the first words out of his mouth–his introduction–are half-truths. Things go crazy from that moment on as Dafydd reveals that she’s the person he’s been searching for over the last one hundred years.
Here’s where Murphy dives into the unknown. Despite the court politics in The Queen’s Bastard, I somehow never thought to see high fantasy blend its way into Murphy’s urban fantasy, and yet that’s exactly what she does. Dafydd’s lie is much more complicated than just having changed his name when immigrating. When he reveals he’s a fairy from fairyland, Lara doesn’t have the choice to disagree, or even humor him. She knows without a doubt that he’s telling the truth as he knows it, and when he drops his glamour, she can’t pretend he’s delusional. He’s “immigrated” from another realm where he’s been accused of killing his brother, a crime he begs Lara to come solve without telling her of his own involvement.
What Lara learns when she steps out of her cautious world into the intrigue and confusion of his own is that truth is complicated. Her abilities stretch and grow, and what she thinks of as true is not always what it seems, but at the same time is always truth. She steps into a world where everyone seems a villain not because of what they hide, but because of what they reveal, clearly ringing with the truth and yet not what she wants to hear. Sifting through the truths, and learning the shades of meaning within them, is a challenge Lara struggles to face head on whereas before she’d hidden in her basic understanding.
I enjoyed meeting Lara and watching her come into her own, while there’s a host of other fascinating characters who don’t always behave as I’d have predicted, and at the same time stay true to themselves. This tale reaches a solid conclusion while leaving the opportunity for other books with Lara and Daffyd to come. The ending itself was both somewhat of a surprise and not. It’s very true to the complex court politics that make up high fantasy.
In case it isn’t obvious, I enjoyed Truthseeker and look forward to more in this world. It’s an expansion of her talents and well worth checking out if you enjoyed the Walker Papers. I also think it’ll prove a fun introduction to her writing if you’ve never given Murphy a try.