November 21, 2007

An Unlikely Champion

This book is a 2007 Fantasy and Science Fiction Cybils Award Nominee.

There are so many books about faeries (or fairies, or whatever--pick your preferred spelling) these days, and I've been surprised by how many are actually standouts--Steve Augarde's The Various, and Herbie Brennan's Faerie Wars, to name a couple. Laini Taylor's Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer is another unique and charming take on the idea of the fair folk.

Magpie Windwitch is a young lass of a faerie, living a gypsy life with the clan of crows that are like a family of protective older brothers. Her calling, she knows, is to travel the world seeking knowledge and adventure, writing down the rapidly disappearing ancient lore of the faeries...and capturing pesky escaped devils.

As it turns out, faeries were once charged with the noble task of defending the world from devils, back in the early days when the Djinn had first created the world. But the faeries have forgotten their purpose and languish into ever greater obscurity, and all the while, the greatest, most malevolent devil of all has escaped and is gathering strength...

Will Magpie and her clan of crows be enough to stop the inexorable evil of the Blackbringer? Or is it too little, too late? Laini Taylor has created an imaginative mythology for a world of magical creatures that exists side-by-side with the human world. Though there are no human characters in the story, as readers we're fully invested in the fates of her faerie and crow adventurers. The longer I read, the more fascinating and gripping the tale got. And I couldn't help but be reminded of the strange but compelling fairy paintings of Victorian artist Richard Dadd, who often depicted faeries with birds and insects--Taylor is also an artist, and hers is a richly visual world. I was pleasantly surprised by this one.

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