The Blackbringer, by Laini Taylor
The BlackBringer (Faeries of Dreamdark Series, vol. 1), by Laini Taylor
A friend reminded me partway through the reading of this book that I’d told her only several weeks ago that I was “done with fairy-dragon-fantasy books for awhile.” So perhaps it makes sense that it took me close to two weeks to finish reading this book, where I’d normally devour a middle-grade fiction book in a day or two, and have devoured adult airport-reads like a Dick Francis novel in one trans-continental flight.
More likely, it’s owing to the fact that this is a book of such intellectual bravery that it just took my pea-brain that long to immerse itself deeply enough into the narrative of this world.
By “bravery” I mean that Laini Taylor has thrown all of her energies into creating a complete world for us. The plants are different; the characters speak in a lauguage with curious tics and metaphoric turns; the very definition of beauty is skewed from ours. As a writer, I’m not sure I have this kind of bravery. Here there are no handy forays into the human world; rather, the Faeries of Dreamdark look upon “mannies” as a curious, lesser feature of an outside world, and by the end of the book, the reader’s immersion in such a world is total.
Magpie Windwitch is a faerie that hangs out with a bunch of crows. The crows travel in a caravan and smoke cheeroots and wear hats. ‘Pie, as she’s called, finds a tentative mate in a tattooed faerie-boy with shriveled-up wings who knits things. Her best friend hears trees and vines talk. Everyone lives in a world created by seven fiery beings who’ve long since disappeared, and when faeries die, they pass over to a land of dragons and moonlight. Imps can mean everything from hedgehog-like creatures to less savory sorts; snags are devils ranging from pathetic mewling grubs to scary sounding gaping maws of flesh. This is the world you sink into when you discover Dreamdark.
Have you ever watched stage actors when they come out for their encores? The really good ones look dazed, kind of unawares, like they’ve been deep in some parallel world and are only slowly coming to grips with the fact that an entire audience has been observing them at their duties in this one. A good book should be like that; it should transport the reader smack into a different world.
I dripped a few tears at certain places in this book; the story is compelling and well crafted; the pacing of the story arc itself is spot-on. When the book ended, I was ready for it to end. And when the heroine meets her nemesis, you are ready to cheer her on, despite the many flaws of her character. When she finally accepts help from another quarter, it feels like a natural twist in the plotline, not some sort of deus ex machina play. It’s good, all of this.
And if it took me the better part of the library-loaning period to finish it, all’s the better, I guess, because once you’ve invested that long into reading a book, you’re bound to invest a little bit more than just a flick of the eyeballs across the printed page.
G’wan, take a good, long gander at The Blackbringer. It’s worth every darned minute.