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Book Review: Faeries of the Dreamdark – Blackbringer by Laini Taylor

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Laini Taylor’s debut fantasy novel, Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer, is hard to classify regarding audience. The publisher designates it as a YA book targeting nine to twelve year olds. That would put it in the same category as Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series and J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. On some levels, I think that’s a fair assessment. However, the demands regarding initial investment in reading time and language skills that Taylor has of her readers requires more patience, understanding, and appreciation of dialogue than those other books.

Those demands aren’t a negative thing. Rather, they further enhance a reader’s experience of the unfolding adventure. Although fairies and stories about fairies aren’t new by any means, Taylor makes them new again in this first book of her series. The author imagines a rich world filled with wonder and brings a language to it that makes it uniquely her own.

I fell in love with the main character almost immediately. How can you not love an independent-minded young faerie named Magpie Windwitch? Especially if her usual companions are a flock of surly, cigar-smoking crows? Taylor does an incredible job of making this world come to life. She calls the crows her “feathers,” and the diminutive is so cool that I was taken with the idea of hanging out with cigar-smoking crows myself just so I could call them “my feathers.”

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Magpie has a magnificent destiny ahead of her, which is usual in these kinds of fantasy novels, but somehow Taylor just makes everything seem fresh again. I liked that she created her version of the Ancient One who is supposed to know everything, yet is stumped when he first confronts Magpie and can’t explain her existence. That kind of revelation seem to mean that anything could happen and nothing was safe.

Humans, as it turns out, are freeing evil into the world after it was locked away 25,000 years ago. Back then, the evil was sealed in bottles. Now no one really knows how to seal evil back in those bottles – even if they were able to combat it successfully enough to put it there. The age-old enemy, the Blackbringer, is back again and gobbling up the world.

Even the romance Magpie has with Prince Talon in the novel won’t be off-putting to young readers because the friendship is played up more than the ardor. Talon’s skill with weaving “skins” is totally cool as well and I can’t wait to see what is done in the coming novels.

For all the fun and frolic available in the novel, Taylor also delivers a decidedly wicked and nasty dark side. Some young readers may grow fearful during the course of the story, but they should be encouraged to hang on because Taylor also delivers a great and uplifting ending.

Readers who love fantasy but are looking for something different will find it in Faeries of the Dreamdark: Blackbringer. Taylor is very generous with new ideas as well as old ones twisted and turned fresh again.

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