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Friday, October 4, 2013

Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer (Dreamdark #1) by Laini Taylor

Well lassies, I waffled between a two and three star. The potential is there but the book falls short on plot and character development. Magpie Windwitch is a roaming faerie who fights devils that humans are releasing from bottles that had been sealed by fairies long ago. When she finds a devil that threatens to devour the world she seeks the help of the Djinn King that sealed it thousands of years before. In the process she discovers how she came to have strange powers that help heal a world that is slowly unraveling. She must use those powers to defeat the most threatening devil yet, Blackbringer, and save her friends from an inky fate of living in an empty vacuum unraveled but not dead.

The book sets up Magpie's powers and how they came to be. The pace in the beginning as this is revealed is at times confusing and slow. While there is plenty of action, there isn't enough sub-characters that interact with the protagonist. The crows are the main ones and they love her and fuss over her, but they don't really do or say much to talk her out of dangerous adventures. I needed more character traits than an Irish accent, to become vested in their actions. Maniac doesn't mean anything to me, so when something awful happens to him I didn't have the emotional - oh no! - that I should have had at that part of the story. Bored, I started to skim ahead until page 150 when Magpie meets the Djinn King. Shortly after that Talon enters the plot along with another villain and their interactions create enough tension to pull me into the story.

At the heart of this plot is a creation story with the Djinn King being one of the creators. He is awakened by Magpie and finds hope again in her belief that things can change. Magpie is not a flawed character who grows throughout the story. She's impulsive and courageous, but she mainly is trying to survive one adventure after-the-other. She and Talon disagree but it isn't much. She and Poppy are the best of friends who work side-by-side to defeat evil, but their dialogue has little page time. I kept waiting for more emotion and internal struggles, but it is mostly external struggles. There are many creation stories and some really well-written ones such as "The Thief" by Megan Whalen Turner. Rick Riordan uses creation myths in his stories. While I loved the creativity of this book combining faerie and djinn, it comes up a wee bit short - as the crows would say.

If ye be like me and loves a good monster, the author does a nice job creating a creepy Djinn King and Blackbringer. The snag or character of Batch Hangnail seemed to have been a missed opportunity of working in the theme of low creatures being prejudiced by others who considered themselves better. It is touched upon but I kept waiting for the author to go into more depth and instead got a quick wrap-up at the end. For the most part the story follows the formulaic quest of a hero saving the world with unusual powers. She is interested in a prince but the two are too busy saving the world to think much about their feelings for each other.

All ends happily, but I wanted more of an explanation about Queen Vesper's history with Batch. The world and time shifts were confusing and abrupt in spots. I thought Magpie was dreaming in the castle but she was out fighting the Blackbringer in reality. I wasn't sure why she didn't have reinforcements and got a bit confused. Then the action picked up and with a shoulder shrug I plowed onward. The world building was sketchy here-and-there and clear in others. I do think this author shows promise but the pacing and evolving plot lines were not on target for me. If you like faeries, djinn, and a strong heroine with little internal struggles then you'll enjoy this one.

2 Smileys

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