Silverblind by Tina Connolly
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“Dorie Rochart has been hiding her fey side for a long time. Now, finished with University, she plans to study magical creatures and plants in the wild, bringing long-forgotten cures to those in need. But when no one will hire a girl to fight basilisks, she releases her shape-changing fey powers—to disguise herself as a boy.
While hunting for wyvern eggs, she saves a young scientist who’s about to get steamed by a silvertail—and finds her childhood friend Tam Grimsby, to whom she hasn’t spoken in seven years. Not since she traded him to the fey. She can’t bear to tell him who she really is, but every day grows harder as he comes to trust her.
The wyverns are being hunted to extinction for the powerful compounds in their eggs. The fey are dying out as humans grow in power. Now Tam and Dorie will have to decide which side they will fight for. And if they end up on opposite sides, can their returning friendship survive?”
Wow, this book is a ton of fun! I wish that it was one that you could jump into without reading the two that came before, because it would be a great book to get people into the genre. Then again, describing this book might get new readers to pick up Connolly’s books, which is all to the good.
The author has definitely moved her story beyond a fantasy-inspired retelling of Jane Eyre. This is a world that has its own politics, its own culture, and its own mythology. Some of it is an outgrowth of the fae mythology that was set down in the original novel, and some of it has taken on a life of its own as the series has progressed. In this book, fae magic takes a backseat to mythical animals—specifically, to wyverns, although these critters relate to the fae.
Even with the new aspects, this novel hearkens back to the first one by featuring Dorie, who was merely a half-fae child when we last saw her. Now she’s grown up and looking for a career of her own. Her young sense of mischief has matured, but not gone away, and there are all kinds of trouble that she gets into even though she’s an adult. Her boy disguise leads her into situations that wouldn’t have otherwise occurred and there’s a certain degree of comic relief inherent in them.
Also funny are the wyverns, especially one specific one that plays a large role in the tale. Their vocalizations are described as yodeling, and this makes for some hilarious moments. The way that they’re described in general reminds me of the Terrible Terrors from the How to Train Your Dragon movies. I loved every moment they were on the page. They don’t take over the story; they merely accentuate the humor and keep things from getting too serious.
An interesting part of the novel is the snippets from other “books” that begin each chapter. The quotes are from books that deal with fae history, and many of them are about Dorie and things that happened because of her attraction to the fae. This builds up curiosity about what really happened to her and Tam, and provides a background for the tension between them without having to work it into the narrative.
This is the final book in the series, and for that I’m truly sorry. Connolly’s alternate Victorian era is unique and vibrant, and Silverblind adds humor and humanity to the mix as well. I highly recommend this book, and this series, to anybody who loves good, solid fantasy.