Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer by Laini Taylor. Illustrations by Jim Di Bartolo. 2007. Copy provided by author.
The Plot: Magpie Windwitch is a faerie who likes adventure. She travels the world with her clan of crows, hunting for lost magics, trapping escaped devils. It's a lot more rough and tumble than the lives of most faeries, but she is the granddaughter of the West Wind, after all.
It's adventure, and it's exciting; and she thinks she is hunting just another devil. Except this one was trapped by one of the great Djinns, something unheard of. This devil is darkness and shadow; it dates back to before the legendary fighter Bellatrix, before the world began. Magpie is in over her head.
Or is she?
The Good: Taylor brings a fresh view to faeries. They know about us "mannies", but their world and lives are separate and apart from ours. The faeries are small, and winged, and most are content, with only a handful, like Magpie, wanting more and seeking more.
I was surprised by the twists and turns of the plot; surprised enough to not want to reveal too much of what transpires. Magpie's pre book life is intriguing, a mix of constant summer camp and Indiana Jones investigations and excitement. I almost wanted more of her childhood and pre-book life.
Magpie receives "the call"; you know, in fantasy? The "you are the only vampire slayer" type call. And I adore her response: "She chewed her lip and pondered it ... She decided finally that it isn't as bad to find out you have a destiny when it's something you want to do anyway."
I know from reading the author's blog that there is a sequel to this book; but this book works well as a stand alone. Actually, I was a bit surprised at that; knowing their was a sequel in the works, I had assumed that certain plots would not be resolved in this book. But they were! And I appreciate it; I love being able to pick up a book and actually have an ending.
At the same time, Taylor has created such a full world that there are many unanswered questions and hints of deeper mysteries to be solved. While it's not said in so many words, I feel that this is just the beginning of something big, something bigger than Magpie suspects.
While strong in plot and in character, the language itself is also beautiful and captivating (it's always nice to find a book that has it all):
Across the water in the hidden places beneath a vast city, a new thing was taking possession of the darkness. Legions of lesser devils had made their home here for centuries in the underbelly of the human world. Now they fled in panic on their cloven hooves and splayed toes.
A furious wind howled in the underground passages. Those creatures who paused to look back over their shoulders found themselves swept up by a terrible hunger and had scarcely time to wonder what was happening before they ceased to exist. Rats, imps, low devils, and quavering translucent spirits roiled up and out of the sewer grates and made for whatever scraps of shadow they could find in the world above.
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