This riveting fantasy marks Melissa Marr’s return to the world of faery courts that made her Wicked Lovely series an international phenomenon.
Lilywhite Abernathy is a criminal—she’s half human, half fae, and since the time before she was born, a war has been raging between humans and faeries. The Queen of Blood and Rage, ruler of the fae courts, wants to avenge the tragic death of her heir due to the actions of reckless humans.
Lily’s father has always shielded her, but when she’s sent to the prestigious St. Columba’s school, she’s delivered straight into the arms of a fae sleeper cell—the Black Diamonds. The Diamonds are planted in the human world as the sons and daughters of the most influential families and tasked with destroying it from within. Against her will, Lilywhite’s been chosen to join them…and even the romantic attention of the fae rock singer Creed Morrison isn’t enough to keep Lily from wanting to run back to the familiar world she knows.
Melissa Marr returns to faery in a dramatic story of the precarious space between two worlds and the people who must thrive there. The combination of ethereal fae powers, tumultuous romance, and a bloodthirsty faery queen will have longtime fans and new readers at the edge of their seats.
Not flawless, but entertaining and enjoyable nevertheless.
While I was a bit doubtful at the beginning of the book, with the introduction of a spoilt, rich teenager and her ilk, as soon as the world building moved into the realm of fairy, I was sucked in. With Melissa Marr, I seem to enjoy her fantasy writing more than her contemporary, which was why the first few chapters seemed a bit meh to me. If you find the same, I urge you to continue because the book becomes so much more rewarding.
The author’s fairy worlds, as seen in her Wicked Lovely series and now here as well, tend to be a bit unhinged, a bit dramatic, a bit sexy – a combination which totally works for me.
There are multiple perspectives in the book, but never fear, it doesn’t get confusing – things are easy to follow While I liked getting to see the relationships, nuances and interactions between the gang of seven, I will admit to wanting more detail there.
Kudos to the author as well, for trying to remedy problematic elements. For example, our protagonist, Lily, shuts down the he-man posturing between the dude she really likes, and the one who is planning to marry her because that’s what the scary dramatic queen decreed – she doesn’t get drawn into it, works on defusing the situation, and tells them that she’s not a conquest.
“It’s like they need to bicker, you know? If they weren’t so tediously straight, I’d swear they needed to kiss it out.”
It’s like Melissa Marr read my freakin’ mind when it comes to competing dude love interests. HA.
The author also flips around the traditional paradigm of white=good, black=bad – the fae of the Seelie court, i.e. the ‘better’ fae court, are dark skinned – the author uses the phrase ‘sun-burnished’ quite a lot. The more evil/dodgier fae of the Unseelie court are the pale folk. While sometimes it can get overemphasised to the point of awkwardness, I appreciate what the author is trying to accomplish here.
The characters are also well aware of their limitations, and they don’t go making crazy plans to overthrow the crazy monarch, which I thought was where the story was headed.
That doesn’t mean we can slay her like a storybook dragon… or even dream of it. The best we can do is protect those we love.
In terms of the flaws:
There is some instalove going on here, at least between Lily and her nice fey man friend – she pretty much has a fantasy about him/crush on him before they even meet, and their attraction when they finally do encounter each other is explained away by them being fey, so affairs of the heart work differently, etc. Cop-out!
The world building is a little flimsy in terms of how everything came to be – mentions of environmental destruction, and then the fey coming out of hiding to play (re: blow up everything).
And there’s the creepy obsession with the princess Eilidh’s virginity by the royal family, which is a tad cringeworthy.
But despite these issues, I did devour the book. There was some welcome humour, and I enjoyed the reveal of the family relations and the complications that it’s going to cause. I just overall wanted more – more info on the lives of the other characters, more info on the faery courts and their functioning, more insight into how/why they go to war, because as it stands the reasoning seems a little flimsy. Why couldn’t the queen just wipe out those pesky humans instead of sending teenagers to do it? But I digress. This is apparently the first book in a duology, and I’ll be interested to see where the author takes the characters, especially my stone cold fox [fairy warrior prince] Rhys.
“One of us can set fires to idiots, and one of us sings pretty songs. Guess which is more useful?”
ARC received from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from uncorrected proof and may differ from final publication.