Settling down to a safe and much quieter life as a librarian, Ruth Marlowe is unable to forget her lost love, elfin lord Rohannan Melior, and discovers a way to return to Elphame, but her journey proves more troublesome than she expects. Original.
And that's what happens to Ruth, too, when she goes to answer an alarm on a holiday. She and her boss, Nicholas Brightlaw, end up being transported to Melior's realm, Chandrakar -- but Melior didn't call them, and he knows nothing about them being there. Which means both Ruth and Nic are in deadly peril from the start in a strange land; the only advantage they have is that, perhaps due to the translation, they understand and can speak the local language.
Ruth meets up with Fox, formerly known as Philip LeStrange -- he, too, had been transported unwittingly to Chandrakar a few years earlier than Ruth from the same library. Fox is embittered, as humans are treated lower than dirt by most.
Then, along the way, Ruth meets up with Jauressande, an Elf woman who's related to Melior. But Jauressande can barely stand the sight of Ruth (she views Ruth's love for Melior as an abomination) and absolutely hates Fox, as Fox has raised the humans in the countryside to rebel against their Elven overlords.
The Cup of Morning Shadows is the object Jauressande must have at the Elven conclave, but it's been stolen, and she's in trouble. She grudgingly agrees, after Nic intercedes (she respects him from the start despite him being human), to place Ruth and Fox under her protection, and they all go off to search for it, having many adventures along the way.
Basically, where the first book, "Sword of Maiden's Tears," was a character study in a humorous urban fantasy setting, "Cup of Morning Shadows" is an adventure story. The humor is present, but somewhat muted, and most of what Ruth and Nic find out isn't particularly likable. And the story does end on a major cliffhanger (which seems to happen in most of Ms. Edghill's books). ;)
Two points to consider. One, if you're looking for the same sort of plot-mixture as the first book, you won't find it here. The horror element is absent or, better yet, transmuted -- the horror in "Cup" is that the Elves have the upper hand and don't want to give it up. Melior is an extreme liberal in this society, in that he has fallen in love and wishes to marry a human woman -- most Elves do not believe humans are worth more than the mud under their boots (thus the epithet "mud-born," although the formal name of humanity in Chandrakar is "the Children of Earth"). Second, this book starts much slower than the previous book, as Ms. Edghill must build an entirely new landscape from scratch while continuing to keep her two major characters (Ruth and Melior) from book one in the dark about most events. This isn't a flaw at all, but it is a major change from the previous book (where the milieu was of contemporary Earth, so the book could start faster as the reader has more cultural referents).
I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys adventurous urban fantasy. Four stars, recommended.
And if you like this book, you'll almost certainly enjoy the current Mercedes Lackey-Rosemary Edghill collaborations "Mad Maudlin," "Spirits White as Lightning," and "Beyond World's End." (Along with anything else Ms. Edghill has ever written.
This time the setting is in Melior's world, and we learn that all is not sweetness and light there. New characters are introduced and are better developed than those in the first book. Familiar characters from the first book are expanded. The whole setting seems to have been better thought out, or else I just found it more interesting than the rather claustrophobic Columbia University setting in the first book.
A warning though: if you buy this book, search out and buy the third in the series, "The Cloak of Night and Daggers", if you want to know what happens, because this book has a cliffhanger ending