YA Novel by Laini Taylor
An amazing tour de force for a first novel, Laini Taylor's world of Dreamdark is a wonderfully written world with its own creation myths, creatures and magics. A rich, thoroughly engrossing book that will grab you at the start, and not let go until the very finish!
At just over 1000 years of age, Magpie Windwitch is barely more than a sprout (the faerie world for child), yet she has already killed several demons, along with the seven crow brothers who she travels with, and who are like family to her. When a new and terrible creature, far worse than any demon ever seen before, is released from its bottle by the foolish tamperings of men, it takes her back to her childhood home, the forest of Dreamdark, and adventures she never could have imagined.
Magpie Windwitch is just the kind of heroine I love: independent, able to take care of herself, and fiercely loyal to those she cares for. She has a warrior spirit. I love her kinship with the crows, and her spunky character.
I also liked the secondary character of Talon Rathersting. A young faerie man from a warrior tribe, his improperly grown wings make it impossible for him to fly. He has always been left out of raiding parties and battles, and really looked down upon. But he soon proves that, despite his disability, he is as able to fight as the others, and he has other talents, far beyond that of those that surround him. I find him an inspiring character, dealing with the lot that fate dealt him and finding a way to move beyond it, to become more than he would have been had he been born normal.
The crow characters threw me a little at first. I have come upon a lot of anthropomorphic characters, and I am used to furry animals that can use their paws like hands and wear clothes, but I had never come upon bird characters that were as humanised as these. The crows can use their claws to sew, they like coffee, and smoke cigars and dress up in costumes to perform plays. I liked the characters of the crows once I got used to this. I think the cigar thing was the most confusing to me, probably I just don't watch enough cartoons, where, apparently, animals do things like this all the time. Not that this book was at all cartoonish, it was very vivid and imaginatively written.
I also enjoyed the language in this book. Taylor used what seems to be a mix of mostly mild Scottish accents and vocabulary, 'ye', 'ye ken', 'lass', 'lad', and vocabulary for an imaginary faerie and creature language that included things like 'feather' as a polite way to address a bird, 'shivered' for scared, 'sprouts' as children, and 'skive' as a curse word. The names of the faeries were also good, not too pretty. These weren't pretty little useless faeries (at least, not the main characters). While the warrior faeries had tougher names like Talon Rathersting, Nettle, while Magpie Windwitch, a traveller has the name of a bird and the wind. They are all names of things the faeries would see everyday about them, and are both appropriate, and not too cutesy.
There is probably so much more I could say about the book. I love the mix of mythologies, with the faeries, the Djinns and the demons. I loved the idea of the Djinns dreaming things up and the tapestry, but I don't want to give too much away. This is definitely a book you should go read!