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Dreamdark 1

by Laini Taylor


Magpie’s return to Dreamdark, the land of the faeries where she was born, is received with expectant questions from the lower forms of magical beings (animals and imps) which also inhabit it. "Is it time?" "No," the lead crow that has watched over her for the last eighty years tells them. As eighty is young for a fairy and Magpie, not fully grown.

Magpie is unusual in more ways than one as her grandfather is the West Wind, and unlike most faeries content to never leave their forest, doesn’t stay long in one place. She travels with her parents and a troupe of crows, hunting snags and devils, and returning to their bottles the genies the greedy mannies, lured by the promise of the three wishes, unwisely released. But the evil the mannies have unleashed this time is unlike anything Magpie has ever encountered. It destroys everyone in its path, mannies and faeries alike, leaving behind nothing but the lingering feeling of ancient hunger and a mad thirst for revenge.

And so, Magpie has returned to Dreamdark, not to fulfill a destiny she doesn’t know she has, but to find the Magruwen, the king of the seven Djins who dreamed the world into existence thousands of years ago, and ask for his help.

Magpie finds the Magruwen, all right. But the Djinn king has rejected the world he once helped create, and is not willing to help the faeries who have betrayed him and forgotten their own history,  and thus lost the magic they once wielded.

Yet the magic is strong in Magpie for reasons she doesn’t know, for reasons the crows sent to watch over her had never told her, waiting for the moment to be right. But the time of waiting is over. For the evil, a deep darkness cloaked in shadows, has preceded her into Dreamdark. faeries are vanishing in their sleep, and even the Rathersting, the tattooed warriors who protect the faery land, are powerless against it.

But Magpie, stubborn and fierce refuses to give up, and with the help of her troupe of crows, and old and new friends, takes as her duty to save the world.

Like the Tapestry Magpie must stop unraveling, Laini Taylor’s world is woven from existing tales. Stories of gods taking corporal disguise for the love of mortal maidens so common in Greek mythology, of powerful Djinns and genies trapped in bottles we have read in the Arabian Nights tales, and of faeries and imps living in secluded glens sung in the old Scottish ballads.

Still, Laini’s world is fresh and exciting and this, Magpie’s first adventure, like the cake she bakes for the Djinn king, made out of one "half walnut shell of fish’s tears," "three strokes of tangled wind," the "shadow of a bird in flight" and "1,000 years of undreamed life" has "the scent of honey, tears and lighting, of thirsty roots in future soil, of wind through wings, a fragrance long absent but well remembered" that will take you home.

On the downside, Lady Vesper, the self-anointed faery queen, is a poorly developed, even clichéd, character who could be eliminated without any detrimental effect to the story. Yet, as this is the first book in the series, I’ll wait to read the rest before passing my final judgment.

The Book

Firebird / Penguin
May 2009
Tweener Fiction / Fantasy
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The Reviewer

Carmen Ferreiro
Reviewed 2009
NOTE: Reviewer Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban is author of the award-winning YA fantasy novel Two Moon Princess [2007], recipient of the ForeWord Magazine Bronze Award for Juvenile Fiction. Its sequel, The King in the Stone, is scheduled to be published in 2010.
© 2009