(Dreamdark #1) by Laini Taylor
Click here for my sister Sondy's review
"Four pairs of battered canvas shoes were arranged around the table with their toes pointed inward, as if the fishermen had gathered here to open the bottle they'd pulled up in their nets. Whatever had been inside, it had been there for a long, long time, and it had come out hungry. Calypso whistled low. 'Snatched 'em right out of their slippers,' he said.
'Why'd they let it out?' Pup wanted to know. 'Why do they always?'
'I reckon they heard the story about the wishes,' replied Swig.
Magpie sighed. One devil, just one in all of devil history, had granted three wishes to the human who freed it. Magpie had caught that troublemaking snag five years ago and put him back, but the damage was already done. The mannies had a mania for it now, and every chance they got they freed some wicked thing back into the world, and they surely didn't get wishes for their trouble.
What had these fools gotten? Just their shoes left behind, and no one to spread that story. 'Poor dumb mannies,' she muttered.
'Curiosity killed the eejit,' Calypso replied with a shrug.
Magpie frowned at him. Usually pity was the last emotion humans inspired in her, but something about those empty shoes tugged at her heart."
Magpie Windwitch is a faerie who hunts devils with her crow friends. As the Holly Black quote on the cover says, "Laini Taylor's faeries are whimsical and tiny, but fierce. This book was so much fun."
"Many thousands of years ago, when the faeries had at long last won the wars, the seven champions had captured the devils in bottles and cast them into the sea. They had crafted elaborate magicks so that nothing could ever free them from their prisons--nothing then alive in the world, anyway. Not faerie nor dragon, elemental, snag, creature, imp, or finfolk could break those seals. But humans? Humans didn't exist. And then one millennium along they came, fishing the world's oceans, pulling up ancient bottles in their nets and uncorking them to see what was inside.
Now devils were creeping back into the world, faster and faster all the time, but the age of champions was long past, and little Magpie Windwitch found herself alone against them."
Blackbringer is, like The Name of the Star, the only book by its author that I've read, despite its excellence. Unfortunately, encouraging you to read Blackbringer seems a bit to me like encouraging you to watch a canceled TV show. Well, who am I kidding? How could I not demand you watch Firefly this instant, if you hadn't already?
See, there is a sequel, though it's out of print, but according to Laini Taylor's website, the third book... well, that's made it onto a very short FAQ list. However, it may be written, at some point! I can't say for sure, but I feel like when I first checked her site, after reading Blackbringer, there were publisher complications that made it sound much bleaker than "I have every intention of returning to complete the Dreamdark series." Still, "...it is not now on the slate." So. Sadly incomplete story. Well. I mean, it doesn't end on a cliffhanger, as I recall. It's complete, as far as it goes. One just... wants more.
That said, what a world, what characters, what a voice! Magpie is a faerie, but she's... well, in that severely overused phrase of paranormal romance and urban fantasy reviews, a "kickass heroine." But she doesn't at all give you that feeling some of them do, that someone's just trying so very hard to create a strong female character. She feels real, she's just a very feisty real. A tiny little warrior saving the world from demons. Yeah, I kind of fell in love with her.
Picked this one up used from the bookstore when I worked there, because I'd seen Laini Taylor's name before, on Shannon Hale's blog, I think. Ah yes, Shannon Hale interviewed her... five years ago, is all. I am so on top of things.
It should perhaps be noted that there are many other things this book does extremely well, as I started to remember when I looked through the quotes I'd marked down. That's what happens when you write about a book a year and a half after reading it, but I will leave as is. These are some of the things that stuck with me.
Must read again... get sequel...