Friday, 25 February 2011

Review: Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr

The events of ‘Fragile Eternity’ have left the faery world off-balance, its key players fighting to maintain control over their world – and its secrets…
Devlin lives in a world where everything is beautiful, ordered… and cruel. As a prominent member of the High Court and half-brother to Sorcha, the High Queen, he’s one of the most powerful faeries of the old guard.
Ani lives in a world where every line is blurred. Half human, half faery, half in the decadence of the Dark Court and half out of it, her life of dive bars, tattoos and street fights couldn’t be farther from the clean lines of the High Court.
But you can’t choose where your heart will take you, and when Devlin and Ani meet, two extremes of the faery world collide – with passion, violence and heat; for better – and for worse…

I adore this series, it’s one of the most decadent and sprawling urban fantasy series in young adult today. Which is partly why it has taken me so long to read this latest instalment. The only problem with this level of detail, is that when there’s a long gap between books, I struggle to get back into it without going back and re-reading everything.

So with the final book in the series ‘Darkest Mercy’ next to me on the sofa, I got going with ‘Radiant Shadows’ so I could have a faerie fest weekend.

The biggest plus for me about this series is that it’s not just about one couple or person, it’s about a group of people who are interlinked and related and in love, and trying to maintain order over these separate courts that are all rapidly becoming further entangled. And not just that, War is coming.

But it’s not a one book build, or even a three book build – four books in and War still hasn’t completely broken yet. It’s all been about moving the right pieces into place, telling all the separate stories that lead us to this point. Where people grow into their roles, make decisions that impact sides and choices, and all it just becomes so complicated I wish I’d made a map.
Not that you can’t follow – Marr is a concise story teller, it’s simply that her scope is so much wider than most writer’s dare to play with, and it’s a truly breath taking piece of work.

So this particular instalment? I loved it. Ani and Devlin are characters that have already been introduced in earlier books, so it was great to actually get to spend a book with them and flesh out the characters. The plot is slowly but surely inching towards its conclusion, and it really felt like all the pieces are slotting into place before the final showdown.

Honestly, this series feels like a really awesome game of chess. It is epic.

My only complaint isn’t really a complaint, more a kind of musing. The road trip felt a little bit ‘ok we’ve driven all this way and now we’re just going to run straight back again.’ But I also get why they went on the road trip. It gave them space to get to know each other and hash it out to a point where they realised they trusted each other and actually needed each other. But I did feel a tiny bit cheated when they realized they should have been at home and hightailed it back. But hey, it meant we got a steamy scene in a motel room. I am a sucker for those.

I can’t recommend it as a standalone book because you’d be so confused it just wouldn’t be worth it – but I do recommend this series as a whole. It’s epic fantasy, with high fantasy thrown in but mostly urban, and it’s brilliant. It’s entirely engrossing, terrifying, with brilliantly drawn characters and exceptionally good writing.

In fact, I’m just going to go read the next one now…
‘Darkest Mercy’ is supposedly not released until 3rd March 2011, but my local Waterstones already had a shelf full. So if you haven’t discovered the series, go and start with ‘Wicked Lovely and if you have, go out and get hold of ‘Darkest Mercy’ it’s going to be an incredible conclusion.

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