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Blackbringer: Faeries of Dreamdark    by Laini Taylor order for
by Laini Taylor
Order:  USA  Can
Putnam, 2009 (2009)

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* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Good versus evil is always a sound theme for a fantasy novel no matter what age group it is aimed at. Blackbringer, the first book in Laini Taylor's Faeries of Dreamdark series, is just such a tale, aimed at tweens.

Magpie Windwitch's family have always been drifters (probably has something to do with her grandfather being a wind elemental), making their way around the world collecting magic from different faerie clans. As Magpie is coming into her own, it has been her job (with her crow friends) to track down snags and eliminate them.

However, one - that even Magpie cannot defeat on her own - has landed in Dreamdark, the ancestral home of the faeries. This devil, the Blackbringer, has already extinguished one of the djinns that created the world. Now Magpie has to convince the hibernating Djinn King that he must not turn his back on faeriekind but should give her the tools needed to defeat the Blackbringer. While the Djinn King resists, Magpie does what she can on her own, enlisting the help of some old and new friends and growing in magical abilities she never knew she had. However, without the Djinn King's backing, she will never become the new champion that Dreamdark needs.

Taylor immediately plops the reader into her Faeries of Dreamdark world with a running start. Normally, I love books that open like this, but since Dreamdark is such a fascinating but different place, it demands more exposition to introduce this new world to the reader. Because of this, I struggled to really get into the story until I began to understand how the world of Dreamdark works. Some typical devices of fantasy novels maps and glossaries would have helped with this immensely, and made the fast-paced start work. There were four pictures (of some of the main characters) throughout the story, but these were too few and far between to be of much help.

The rest of Blackbringer is a fun fantasy ride with colorful characters and exciting battles. While it is the start to a series, it can be read as a standalone as Magpie's tale is wrapped up nicely at the end. Adventure awaits her, but I am not sure how much readers will see of her as future books of Laini Taylor's Faeries of Dreamdark series move on to other faeries.

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