Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer, by Laini Taylor (Putnam, 2007, 437 pp)
Way back in 2007, I noticed that a lot of people were saying, with great conviction, that Blackbringer was a very good book indeed (see below for specifics). But I was doubtful. There was this fairy-type person on the cover... Even though she looked fierce, and not twee at all, I was cynically unsure about the book.
Fast forward to fall, 2008. There I was on a Cybils panel with Laini, and while emailing and chatting and reading her blog, I came to realize that someone as smart and fun as she is would easily have been capable of writing as good a book as people said she did. Of course, by the time that realization came, I had a reading list of 160ish books on my hands, so Blackbringer had to wait.
Fast forward to yesterday. I finished Blackbringer, excitedly rushing toward the end, while regretting that the end was nigh. I loved it.
Just in case there is anyone reading this who hasn't read any of the many glowing reviews out there already, Blackbringer tells of an ancient evil being, released from his prison through human folly. Standing against him is a young fairy, Magpie Windwitch, and a group of rambunctiously stalwart crows. Magpie is a great heroine, smart and sassy and caring and interested in life. Sure, she has Wondrous Gifts and a Special Destiny, but these are mere accessories to the vivid person that she is. The crows are funny, teetering on the edge of farce but holding their own on this side of it. The ancient evil is an archetypal mythical awfulness, who manages to avoid being a cliche. And there are a host of other characters, filling out the story beautifully and making this world real.
I'm pretty sure Laini enjoyed tremendously the creation of her world and its people, because this the result is one of the most three-dimensional, lived-in, and cared about places I've been for ages. I felt small, Magpie-sized, while reading it, but I don't remember being told to feel this way. I'm so very glad I didn't read it back in 2007 because now I have a lot less time to wait before the sequel, Silksinger, comes out this fall! (edited to add: here's what I thought about Silksinger)
Because of knowing and liking the author, I was determined to read the book Critically, not allowing emotion to sway intellect. And indeed, there was one word that I thought might have been ill-chosen. That word is "pink." It can be found on page 115.
Blackbringer comes out in paperback (shown below) this May! It's interesting that they are now calling the series just Dreamdark, instead of Fairies of...Since I'm still a fairy sceptic, even though I loved Magpie, I find it more appealing!
There have been tons of blog reviews of Blackbringer; Laini has a comprehensive list at her place. The first I read was at Fuse #8, the most recent was from another of our Cybils panel, Em. I think Em and I would both have shortlisted Laini's book in a second! What were the 2007 people thinking????
And finally, here's a link to Shannon Hale and Laini talking to each other.
(nb: I have labeled this middle grade and YA, not because there is anything edgy, but because this is one that YA people would like too. If I had "adult" as a labeling choice, I'd add that too).