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With Fate Conspire

Posted by Steve the Bookstore Guy On Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Admittedly, there are some great perks to being a reviewer. The lavish lifestyle includes all-expense-paid trips to foreign countries, supermodels, perfectly cooked steaks...OK, none of that. I get books. Lots and lots of books. Some are awesome, and some are terrible. One of the greatest perks is reading a novel I'd never have picked up on my own and discovering how fantastic it is. That happened to me last year when I read Marie Brennan's A STAR SHALL FALL. Set in historic London, the novel unexpectedly shoved me down in my comfy reading chair and didn't let me up until I had finished the novel. Understand, that sort of thing rarely happens to me anymore.

Brennan's latest, WITH FATE CONSPIRE, quickly became one of my must-reads of the year. So when it came in the mail (personally sent by the author herself, no less) I happily returned to my comfy chair and began reading. The concern should be obvious. Could Brennan easily capture my imagination again? Would the literary lightening strike twice?

Yes. Yes it did.

WITH FATE CONSPIRE is a completely absorbing novel. I think, though, that much of the reason I loved Brennan's latest is that she didn't write the same type of novel again. Oh sure it is still about the Onyx Court. Faeries are still hidden right under the noses of the mortal Londoners. But this novel is SOOOOOO different. This story tales place in London of the 1800's with the underground rail system being completed. As you can imagine, the iron rails are causing immense destruction in the Onyx Court. WITH FATE CONSPIRE is the tale of a civilization of faeries trying to save their home and preserve it for the future. This isn't the love story that A STAR SHALL FALL was (though that element isn't totally absent). This is a tale of corruption and redemption.

One of the main characters of the novel is Eliza, a girl who saw her childhood love abducted by faeries years ago. Her goal at first is simple; find her lost love. The other main character is Dead Rick, one of the fae. He has no memory of his life prior to a few years ago, and his memories are being held hostage. They are two wildly distinct characters, and neither one ever got to the point where I thought, "Geez, i wish we could get to the other character again..."

However with these individual character stories comes my only real tiny issue with the novel. That bit I mentioned about Eliza looking for her lost love? It's mentioned on the dust jacket. It's her main motivation for the entire story. Yet as a reader, the story tried overly hard to avoid telling me what happened until over half-way through the story. Sure it was a great reveal when it happened, but seeing it earlier (like, at the very beginning) in full detail wouldn't have hurt the story in the slightest, and would have given me a much better reason to identify with her plight right at the onset of the story.

But that's it. That's the only small thing that stood out. The rest was absolutely great.

The writing was fantastic. There are very few authors that really impress me with the way they write. Bakker. Valente. Gaiman. Brennan, for me, is right there. I love how she writes. Her descriptions of old London are vivid. If I'm honest, I'm seriously jealous of how she does it. Her pacing is slow, but never dull. I often felt like I was slowing down my reading purposely so I could catch all the little literary goodies she has buried in the pages. And even though this novel (as is the case with her prior novels as well) is slower, I found the reading to be easy and relaxing. The pages flew by.

I love how believable her characters are. Everything in this setting is bleak, yet the characters never truly give up hope. They will go to any length to meet their diverse goals.

Brennan's work isn't for everyone. There are some readers who just won't like this novel as much as I do. Then again, that's kind of the point. Different strokes for different folks, and all that. I love these books. WITH FATE CONSPIRE is absolutely fantastic. It can be read as the fourth book in the series, or by itself. Whichever way you read it, the important part is that you DO read it.

Like I said, being a reviewer has its perks. One of those is being able to discover an author as awesome as Marie Brennan.

Recommended Age: 16+
Language: Based on the types of characters encountered, and the time period, there is a lot more swearing than in the prior novel. It never really feels shock value though.
Violence: Violence isn't really relied on in this series. Sure there is some great, brief action, but it isn't a focal point.
Sex: Talked about, but nothing detailed.


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