A Series Review: Faeries of Dreamdark by Laini Taylor

A Series Review: Faeries of Dreamdark by Laini TaylorBlackbringer by Laini Taylor
Series: Faeries of Dreamdark #1
Published by Putnam Juvenile on May 14, 2009
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure
Pages: 448
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-half-stars

When the ancient evil of the Blackbringer rises to unmake the world, only one determined faerie stands in its way. However, Magpie Windwitch, granddaughter of the West Wind, is not like other faeries. While her kind live in seclusion deep in the forests of Dreamdark, she's devoted her life to tracking down and recapturing devils escaped from their ancient bottles, just as her hero, the legendary Bellatrix, did 25,000 years ago. With her faithful gang of crows, she travels the world fighting where others would choose to flee. But when a devil escapes from a bottle sealed by the ancient Djinn King himself- the creator of the world- she may be in over her head. How can a single faerie, even with the help of her friends, hope to defeat the impenetrable darkness of the Blackbringer? At a time when fantasy readers have an embarrassment of riches in choosing new worlds to fall in love with, this first novel by a fresh, original voice is sure to stand out.

After reading the gloriousness of Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, I knew I had to read all of her backlist. This was made a bit more complicated by the fact that this series can be hard to find. You could truly end up paying forty bucks plus for the out-of-print Silksinger, though the audiobook version is easy to get from Audible. I got really lucky and stumbled across it at Books of Wonder a couple of years ago. Unicorn acquired, a series read was due, and, over the Thanksgiving holiday, I binged these two.

Going back from her later work, there’s definitely ways that this series didn’t live up to expectations. Certainly, the writing’s not as gorgeous as her later works, but that’s to be expected. However, in Blackbringer and Silksinger, you will find Taylor’s lush world building and powerful, resonant characters, who highlight a lot of different kinds of bravery and strength.

Faeries are, admittedly, not my favorite fantasy creatures. They can go a bit too much to the whimsical for my tastes, like a Tinkerbell kind of thing. They’re sparkly and hot, but oh so vicious, like they should be in the same club with Edward. I’ve loved faerie books for sure, but they’re almost the paranormal/fantasy creature I’m least likely to seek out. (Angels take that crown because of the religious implications.) Unsurprisingly, Taylor’s faeries are pretty awesome.

Blackbringer opens with a sweet introduction to Magpie Windwitch, heroine of the series. And by sweet, I mean that in a 90s slang way, not in a sugar way. Pie’s out hunting devils with her crow brothers (not by birth but because family). In this world, faeries have gone soft. Devils were defeated in a great war many generations before, the Djinn who made the world have been asleep, and with every generation the faeries have forgotten more magic and become less powerful. Devils, however, were defeated but not killed: they were put into sealed bottles which humans have been opening. Magpie has made it her mission to rebottle those devils.

The devil Magpie’s tracking in Blackbringer isn’t what she’s used to though, so she’s going to need more help. This sends her home to Dreamdark, a faerie realm, free of humans. She’s going to meet a djinn, a faerie prince with wings too small to fly, and reunite with her best friend Poppy. Magpie does end up being a classic chosen one in some senses, but it’s nice that she very much could not have saved the faerie world without lots of help. She was given the skills needed to help keep the world safe, but she alone couldn’t have done enough. There are, however, a couple of super convenient plotting elements: prophetic dreams and a magically appearing slip of paper with the precise information Magpie needs.

Blackbringer ends with a new mission in Magpie’s sights and me hoping for a cute ship between Magpie and Talon.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 gif-fairy-fight-true-blood

A Series Review: Faeries of Dreamdark by Laini TaylorSilksinger by Laini Taylor
Series: Faeries of Dreamdark #2
Published by Putnam Juvenile on September 17, 2009
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure
Pages: 464
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-half-stars

One faerie, the last of her clan, must fight to complete her sacred duty

Whisper Silksinger is the last of the secret guardians of the Azazel, one of the powerful Djinn who dreamed the world into being. Relentlessly pursued by bloodthirsty devils, she flees to the city of Nazneen to restore the Azazel to his temple. At the same time, Hirik Mothmage is also on a secret quest, to find the Azazel and restore his disgraced clan’s ancient honor.
And behind them all flies Magpie Windwitch, first champion of the new age of faeries, desperate to rescue Whisper and the Azazel alike before they fall in the clutches of a sinister hidden enemy.

From this point, there will be some comments on the series as a whole, but I will tag spoilers for Blackbringer or Silksinger.

Silksinger adds new characters to the existing cast: Whisper and Hirik. They get easily half the focus of Silksinger and are integral to the next part of Magpie’s quest. Whisper’s a nice addition, the only one of the group that’s not by any means a warrior. It’s great that she’s an integral portion of the team, despite that. View Spoiler »

One of the trickier things about this series is that they sort of straddle the middle grade/YA border. Age-wise, the characters are roughly teenage, I think, though faeries very much do not track age that same way. Physically and mentally, they do seem rather younger, since faeries mature a bit more slowly. This is most telling in the romance, which is very much middle grade awkward flirting. Talon and Magpie’s “kisses” are super cute though. These must have been a bit hard to market though, especially since YA was just becoming a thing in 2007 and they’re probably a bit heavy for most children’s book sections.

In some ways, the conflict in this novel does feel a bit more low stakes than in Blackbringer, because that villain was super scary and powerful. However, I do think the pacing of Silksinger greatly improved on Blackbringer. It does always help to not have to do the world building. View Spoiler »

The really big, tragic downside to this series is that it’s not finished. The ending of Silksinger is a nice end to this book’s arc, but the series arc is very much left in the middle. Clearly, since Silksinger didn’t get a paperback and was allowed to go out of print, these books didn’t sell enough for book three to be picked up. Are they worth reading even though they leave off in the middle? If you’re a big Laini fan, for sure, but they’re hard to get your hands on and they do not resolve.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 gif-the-party-is-just-getting-started gif-this-party-is-over-star-wars

One response to “A Series Review: Faeries of Dreamdark by Laini Taylor”

  1. That’s pretty unfortunate about this being an incomplete series. I think anything we can get of Laini’s is worth it though, although you’re quite right about the difficulty in finding these. I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled though. 🙂
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday – The Wanderers by Meg HowreyMy Profile

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