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Book Reviews by Edogawa Ranpo

Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer
Laini Taylor
G. P. Putnam's Sons
434 pages
Reviewed August 10, 2007

I had to decide between one of three books to review today, and in such cases I generally read the first chapter of each one in the expectation that one of them will catch my attention - and that's the one I'll continue to read and ultimately review.

Today, my choice was Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer, by Laini Taylor. It was the first one I chose to read, and so engaging was it that once I finished the first chapter, I didn't stop, but simply continnued on with it.

It's published through Putnam's Young Adult imprint, but while it is an excellent book for that age group, adults of all ages should enjoy it as well. The heroine, faerie Magpie Windwitch, is a wonderful creation, and one follows her adventures as the self-appointed savior of her people (who prefer to dwell in ignorance of the growing threat against them from the devils) with enjoyment.

Here's the first few paragraphs of the first page:

"Devils!" screamed the fishermen, pointing at the sky.

Magpie Windwitch didn't know many human words, but she knew this one, devil, in more than twenty of their languages, though this was the first time she'd been called one herself.

"Foolish mannies," she scoffed, looking down at them from the sky where she was circling their fishing boat amid a swirl of crows.

"Aieeee!" the humans wailed, dropping to their knees to pray.

Certainly it was strange to see crows this far out over the open ocean, but to call them devils, that was going a bit far. Magpie shook her head and signaled to the crows to turn away. This wasn't the boat they sught, anyway. The boat they sought would be empty, forsaken by its fishermen and left to drift.

The boat they sought had met a real devil.

25,000 years ago, the powerful faerie Champions fought a war with the devils that plagued the land, and imprisoned them in silver bottles which they tossed into the oean. No one and nothing alive then could open those bottles, but now human beings are on the particular human fishermen, who fish out the bottles and open them all in the hopes of finding a Genie who would grant them wishes. Instead they unleashed the devils, whom Magpie must now chase down and imprison again.

Until she comes across the latest derelict fishing craft, and discovers what was unleashed from that bottle.... the most powerful devil of all. Darkness. Hunger. The end of the world.

Magpie doesn't know that yet, though. All she knows is that it's a powerful devil and that there's something terribly wrong now. She must find the Djinn King, the Magruwen, who went out from the world centuries ago, and discover from him what that devil is and how to fight it. She begins her quest in her old home of Dreamdark.

But all is not well in Dreamdark, either, as Magpie shortly learns...

This is Laini Taylor's first novel, but she writes with the ease and expertise of a seasoned professional. The world of Dreamdark comes to life through her words, the characters rise with fluttering wings from the page.

They flew all night in the arms of the wind and reached Dreamdark with the dawn. By the light of earliest morning Magpie had her first glimpse in more than eighty years of the forest of her birth. A world of oak and yew, pine and thorn, it seemed to go on forever. Long fog-blurred lakes twisted past knuckles of rock, and creeks meandered out of the dense woods and back in again. There were meadows hither and thither, and rising crags, and an island-dotted river, but mostly Dreamdark from the skt was a tapestry of treetops, as inscrutable as an ocean. Some white owls broke its surface like fish leaping in a sea. All else was still.

Author Laini Taylor attended the California College of Arts & Crafts, but dropped out to "draw the kinds of things she really wanted to - mermaids and ostrich gondoliers and wings on just about everything." Her first business was selling prints and greeting cards - a line of fairy greeting cards and paper ornaments.

Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer is the first in what we hope will be a long line of novels from Laini Taylor.

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