Magpie Windwitch is the grand-daughter of the West Wind and a female Faerie. This makes her different to other faeries. Along with her parents she is able to hunt down and dispose of escaped devils or 'snags' as she calls them. More devils are escaping these days as humans keep freeing them from their prison containers... bottles, flasks etc. She's kept very busy travelling the world, doing her work, with her clan of crow companions.
The discovery of an abandoned fishing vessel causes unease in Magpie. She senses an unusual devil is behind the disappearance of the fishermen. She returns to the place of her birth, Dreamdark, in Scotland, a huge area of land that includes forests and mountains which is cut off from the outside world by an impenetrable hedge. Here she finds long lost friends, new friends and a new queen that she makes an instant enemy of. But she's not here to see them, she's here to find the Magruwen, the leader of the seven Djinns who made the world and may have originally imprisoned the marauding devil she now seeks. He may have information that can help her. The Magruwen's been lost for many thousands of years but even if she does find him Magpie is certain he won't want to help capture a devil who's a danger to the whole world. Regardless of that, Magpie knows she must succeed in her deadly mission or risk losing everything.
I'll be honest, I'm not a huge fairy story fan. When I picked this Young Adult book at random from the library shelves I was initially attracted by the gorgeous cover (it's by Jim Di Bartolo). I wasn't really expecting the blurb on the back to sound interesting enough to make me want to take it home. But, against all expectations, it did. And I'm really glad about that. Blackbringer turned out to be one of those pleasant little surprises you get from time to time when a book surpasses your expectations.
I would call this book charming. And yet the faeries in it are not actually charming in themselves. They're gritty little characters, fiesty and determined, ready to kill if need be. Just like us they're petty, resentful, bullying, violent... but also resourceful, brave and kind.
The author has created an interesting world with all the key ingredients you would expect from a fairy tale... magic, spells, potions, strange little imps, devils, djinns, talking crows. All this you would expect and might think the book would be a bit run-of-the-mill and predictable. To be honest I'm not sure why it wasn't and what it was about the book I liked so much. I'm normally impatient with books that have what I consider to be slightly dodgy Americanised British (in this case 'Scottish') accents. But not even that put me off. I think it was simply that it was different enough and charming enough for me to enjoy it. Plus, I really liked Magpie Windwitch who wasn't a pretty little faerie, but a tom-boy girl who enjoyed an exciting life and didn't fuss over her appearance. She was refreshingly different and I liked the fact that the author did this with a female character as it's usually the boys who get all the exciting roles in books. Nice job.
There's only one sad thing about this and that is that there are only two books. Blackbringer was Laini Taylor's first book. She wrote one more in the series, Silksinger, and then went on to write another series called The Daughter of Smoke and Bone. So I assume no more Dreamdark books. What a shame, as it really is an enchanting world she created.