Backlist Series Review: Dreamdark by Laini Taylor

Monday, December 19, 2016

Author: Laini Taylor
Genre: fantasy
Series: Faeries of Dreamdark #1 and #2
June 2007
January 2009
Source: purchased

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?

Lovely and sharp, Laini Taylor's unique take on faeries is full of the gorgeous, creative prose she's come to be known for since these were published way back in 2007 and 2009. Combining fantastic writing, lush imagery and that one-of-a-kind imagination (full of devils and djinn and magic and mayhem and feathers), Taylor's Dreamdark books are engaging, original, and thoroughly fun to read. These two books both skew a bit younger than the more famous and widely-available Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, but each shows the same skilled hand at plotting, characterization, and worldbuilding. 

Taylor's books have a way of enveloping readers into whichever world is being inhabited by these characters and created by this author. First with Blackbringer and then followed and expanded in Silksinger, the stories and fae mythology invented easily capture attention and interest. From the slang to the fresh spin on magic to the disparate faerie cultures, the world of Magpie and Talon is different and intriguing one. The threat of the devils is present for both books, but Taylor is clearly playing a deeper, evolving game with her antagonists. There's a larger series plot arc concerned, the history of which is slowly being revealed as Magpie, Whisper and more are entangled in the Tapestry.  

Blackbringer provides an excellent entrance into the world of djinn and darkness, and Silksinger ably continues the story right where the first leaves off. Magpie , as the main character and heroine, especially gets the chance to shine and grow into her role in the course of the two novels. But first her 'feathers' and Talon (and then later Whisper and Hirik) make for an entertaining and loveable group of side characters to accompany her on her travels; Mingus and Bertram are particular favorites. The plots begins simply enough, but as Magpie uncovers more about herself and her world, the mysteries and the story deepen. Even in book two, there's more to be found out -- this writer has an ace up her sleeve and more subtle twists than can be predicted.

Laini Taylor is the rare author that is actually a wordsmith; she knows how to perfectly craft a sentence that is lovely, memorable, and full of imagery. Her books are replete with standout images and language, and her debut series shows those talents began early.  And while her talent for that aspect of her craft is appreciated and apparent in the narratives, it must be said that the Dreamdark series sadly doesn't feel wholly complete at the end of these two (published) books.

A high-energy duology, filled with humor and harsh realities, both Blackbringer and Silksinger pack in the desperate action along with the picturesque writing. The main plot in each are wrapped up with means both clever and believable for the preceding chapters; there are high stakes and no deus-ex-machinas. There's a lot of plot potential left hanging at the ending of Silksinger and the overarching themes and plots introduced are far from being satisfactorily wrapped up. The incompleteness of the narrative is hopefully temporary because Magie, Talon, Whisper, Hirk, and the crows have a lot more adventures left in them to come.


  1. Ever since finishing her Daughter of Smoke and Bone I've been trying to get my hands on these with the intention of having them tide me over till Stranger the Dreamer! Of course I completely forgot of this series existence... thanks for the reminder. It sounds lovely. :)

    1. Good luck! I am particular and needed matching hardbacks and book two is out of print. Still, these are so good and fans of Laini will love them :)


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