Friday, December 9, 2011

DREAMDARK: SILKSINGER


Review of DREAMDARK: SILKSINGER by LAINI TAYLOR
(second in the DREAMDARK series)

You don't need to read BLACKBRINGER to read the second book of the DREAMDARK series: SILKSINGER. In BLACKBRINGER, Taylor nicely wrapped up the story so the book functions well both as a standalone and as part of a greater story. While set in the same world with characters and conflicts readers will recognize, SILKSINGER is an entirely fresh tale with an even more ominous threat.  

It’s no secret by now that I think Taylor writes memorable characters. Magpie, her silly crow brothers, and Talon feature prominently in SILKSINGER, but the new additions to the cast are equally compelling. Whisper actually reminds me of Taylor's own short story in LIPS TOUCH: THREE TIMES in which the woman’s voice will kill all who hear it, so she remains always silent. Whisper is a muted version of this same concept. Her fairy clan, the Silksingers, have magical voices, a gift she can’t always control. Thus she keeps her voice at a low whisper to avoid accidental magic. This soft-spoken nature causes many to underestimate her, but she will prove her bravery and determination more than once before the end of this book.

The romance between Talon and Magpie was so subtle in the first book as to be practically nonexistent. They are essentially pre-teen fairies; Talon is clearly attracted to Magpie but is too young to even recognize what he’s feeling. Magpie on the other hand is only barely pulling out of the “Boys? Ew!” stage. However, a second budding romance plus a dash of jealousy bring forward these relationships more than in the first book. On this subject, I’m impressed with how Taylor handles the gender roles in romance. A lot of rescuing occurs in these pages, but girls do the rescuing as much as they are the ones being rescued. The ultimate sense is that both are drawn to protect the other and neither could accomplish as much without that kind of support. I’m a cynical romance reader, but that’s a concept that wins me over.

As with BLACKBRINGER, significant loses occur within these pages. Taylor doesn’t go around killing off too many characters, but she’s not afraid to strike down favorites. Actually, deaths aren’t nearly as frequent as death scares. Numerous times a main character appears close to death only to be saved by a cohort at the last moment. However, what makes me still hold my breath every time is that real, irreversible deaths do occur, so you can’t always trust conveniently timed rescues. The writing and characters really suck me into these moments and I experienced, at different points, both elation that someone made it through against all odds and crushing disappointment when I realized the author wasn’t holding her punch this time. At least Magpie can still visit those who died. In the last book, she learned to slip into the Moonlit Gardens, the afterlife for fairies and other magical creatures, and she utilizes this skill for many different purposes throughout the story. Perhaps most touching, though, is when she comes to see someone she lost. Anyone who has lost someone beloved will envy her this power, but, whatever closure it might bring, it doesn’t erase her pain; she still yearns for them to return to the world of the living and mourns the years lost to an untimely death.

I have mixed feelings about the bad guy in this story, but I’m going to shy away from saying too much, since most of my comments give away important details. The short version is that I predicted something significant about the villain. Yet, even if that may have diminished my surprise, it didn’t lessen the threat or the tension. Not to mention that there are so many layers that it’s impossible to predict everything!

The saddest part of this book, though, doesn’t lie in the story, but outside in the real world. While BLACKBRINGER tied up all its ends, SILKSINGER trails off almost unfinished. Unfortunately, the publisher decided not to follow through with this series, so until the author finds another home for Magpie and Whisper and the others, we will be left to wonder for a while. Taylor’s blog says she has five books planned for the series and I for one hope they find a new home soon.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if she's considered self-publishing the rest of the series. I know it's a crazy amount of work, but she already has a market for them. Authors with successful traditionally-published books seem to do really well with self-publishing backlists and novellas and the like. And her husband's an artist, so he could do the cover...

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