Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer by Laini Taylor
(Putnam, Hardcover, 2008)
Magpie Windwitch is an unusual faery. She flies around the world, catching devils. Something that hasn't been done since the Djinn's champion, Bellatrix, disappeared thousands of years ago. When her latest adventure leads her back to Dreamdark, the place of her birth, Magpie is reunited with her old friends Poppy Merryweather and Snoshti. As Magpie tries to catch Blackbringer, the devil that is wreaking havoc on Dreamdark, she is confronted by a forgotten past and a task that will determine the future of the faeries.
I have to say that this is one of the best fantasy stories that I've ever read (and I'm not just saying that because Laini was on the Cybils panel with me!). This is the type of book that I would have carried around with me everywhere at the age of 10. I would have dog eared the pages and written spin-off stories of Dreamdark. Magpie's story is drenched in magic - the characters, the setting, the spells, it's all so carefully crafted and fantastically wrought. Magpie herself is just the type of spunky character that I love. She's brave, modest, and full of heart. In addition to the wonderful Magpie, this story is brimming with many fascinating side characters. From Talon, the warrior prince who can't fly, to the band of crows that Magpie flies with to the scavenger imp that sticks his toes in his nose for safekeeping, each character was fully realized and added much to Magpie's tale.
Another wonderful aspect of the book was the drawings. Blackbringer is illustrated by Laini's husband, Jim Di Bartolo . (How do you have enough creative control to pick your illustrator? I want to know!) The illustrations are so detailed and perfect for the book, I just wished there were more. Every time I came to an illustration in the book, I would think, Wow, wouldn't it be awesome to have a framed print of this? Jim is also doing the illustrations for the sequel, Silksinger, which will be out this fall. The picture at the top is of the hardcover version of Blackbringer and the picture down below is of the paperback version. Both are really cool and I especially love the title drawing on the paperback version.
In short, add this book to your collection now! And put Silksinger on your wishlist. While you wait for Silksinger, take a look at Laini's blog . It's full of fun posts about writing and life.