The May read for the book club, I almost passed on this one because I knew May was going to be so busy with writing, but I couldn’t resist that cover!
Halayda was quite the surprise, actually. I think the series title including the words “Star Fae” had me sort of expecting a fantasy series set in a sci-fi sort of realm. Then I found out that it was a story about fairies, and I pictured Tinker Bell and kind of lost interest. However, I was wrong on both counts. In fact, nothing could be further from what I originally imagined this story would be about. This is a classic fantasy, set in a realm that is like earth, but not – a realm that sits side-by-side with the realm of faerie, separated by a veil. On the earth side of things are the alchemists, who use chemistry and science to gain power. On the faerie realm are all the creatures you would expect to find there, and they use magic. But these are not little fairies like the ones you’ll find in Disney cartoons. No, these are the fae, like the Seelie and Unseelie hosts ruled by Titania and Oberon, there is a much more classical mythology feel to these fae. They are powerful and solemn and while you get hints that they could be mischievous and havoc-wreaking, this is a culture that has been on the brink of war for so many centuries, that is all they know.
In between the realms of humans and fae you have these sort of “lost ones” – children with faerie blood, but not enough human or faerie in them to be fully accepted by either side. And in the middle of everything is Sylvie Imanthiya. An alchemist half-fae herself with no visible faerie abilities, she cares for other half-fae orphans like herself, but enjoys the occasional request for help from Taylan, the King of Faerie. Four times a year, he employs her alchemical talents to help keep the peace between their people. But when an attack occurs that Sylvie cannot prevent, something happens that nobody expected, and Sylvie and Taylan find their destinies have collided in ways neither was prepared for.
This story was an adventure from the first page. The characters drew me in and carried me off on their adventure and it was nearly impossible to put the book down until I had finished the last page. I enjoyed watching Sylvie discover the world of Faerie. I loved the glimpses of back-story I got throughout the story as important tidbits of information about each character were doled out at just the right moment, but not so much that it interfered with or detracted from the adventure at hand.
It’s hard to talk about the story without giving away spoilers, so I’ll just talk about the characters for a moment.
Sylvie is just the sweetest heroine. She is braver than she thinks, but often thinks longingly of her blankets and wishes she could just go home and hid in them. In addition to having a knack with alchemy, she is also an artist – a hobby that is woven into the story with a care and gentleness I appreciated. It made her more real without smacking me across the head.
Taylan is not your typical fae-folk. I tend to think of the fae as being flighty and vain and disinterested in anyone but themselves… Taylan is none of those things. He is a warrior who took the kingdom from its last ruler by force because that is the only way to take the rulership of Faerie, but he has been plagued by that decision ever since. For thousands of years he has held the throne, knowing he is not the right man for the job, but truly feeling that he has Faerie’s best interests at heart and unwilling to hand the power of the throne over to anyone who might care less for this realm. He has seen Faerie suffer and worries that it is a reflection of his leadership causing it, but unable to figure out how to fix it.
There are other amazing characters woven throughout the story, and each of them has their own struggles to overcome and back-story to reveal, but I’ll let you discover them on your own. And while I’m usually not a huge fan of romance, the elements of that in this story were sweet and beautiful.
I’m kind of hovering around 4.5 dragon eggs on this one.
So, we’ll go with 4 dragon eggs, since the rest of the series isn’t out yet. But I have a feeling that if the rest of the books are as good as this one, I’ll be bumping it up to 5 dragon eggs at some point.