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Epic climax to a great Urban Fantasy
One perk to being part of the Angry Robot Army is I get access to eARC's of their newest releases. After reading the first two books in Mike's Courts of the Feyre series (Sixty-One Nails and Road to Bedlam), I was jonsin' for this book to come out. Getting the free copy did not affect my review (FTC guidelines).
Mike had me up late last night finishing Strangeness and Charm--a sign of a great book, for sure. I love a book with a strong ending, one that shows the author stepped up his game to create a spectacular finish. Mike pulled out all the stops on this one, creating one of the most memorable climaxes I've read across any genre. One of Mike's strengths is how he uses native British history to insert mystery and magical intrigue into his stories. If you look at the awesome new cover design (the first two books will be redesigned in similar fashion), you'll notice relics that the main character ends up hunting in the book to prevent a catastrophe.
In an interview I had recently with Mike, he mentioned how writing this Urban Fantasy series excites him because of how it presents a very real world, but also includes the magic that lies in the shadows. This in turn creates an experience for the reader where they hopefully start observing their own reality and where magic might be hiding. This is similar to how Horror draws people in, making them think a monster might be hiding in the dark, and while Mike does have some monsters in the first two books, this book is more about people with superpowers. Is the person that just walked by using glamour to hide the sword they're carrying?
Having just seen Avengers, and loved it, this book made for a similar if not better experience--which is high praise to both. The main character, Niall, begins Strangeness and Charm with the task of finding half-breed fey who have escaped the events concluding book two, Road to Bedlam. Mike starts the book off showing us what one teenage half-breed would do with his ability to create the effects of projectile weapons. Anyone pantomime guns with their hands growing up? This kid does that and things actually blow up. How cool is that? And he's just the beginning of many displays of unique superpowers.
While Mike gives us a hefty dose of magic battles, relic hunting, and the usual Niall-being-Niall rookie mistakes, the first third focuses on Niall's relationship with his rebellious daughter, Alex. The theme explores the relationship between father and teenage daughter, and what both sides often go through before realizing how to show love in a respectful way. Alex is a half-breed like he is assigned to hunt, and eventually gets fed up feeling like she doesn't belong. This creates a high-stakes tension when she falls into a group of half-breeds who have nefarious plans that Niall's boss won't take too kindly to.
I can't say enough about how much I loved reading about the magical abilities of the half-breeds. The ending... wow. That was awesome, and emotional too beyond the "fireworks" display. Hats off to Mike for doing the research needed to make the setting feel so real--the relics, rituals and locations are all based on actual history. I can't wait to see how this series concludes with book four.
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Posted June 17, 2013
I debated leaving this less-than-perfect review because I have b
I debated leaving this less-than-perfect review because I have become quite a fan of Shevdon's books and also enjoy visiting his website. Yet my mind keeps returning to this last installment of his Courts of the Feyre, so perhaps if I write this, I can let it go. I will do my best to avoid spoilers but read at your own risk.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
I was fortunate enough to discover The Courts of the Feyre series just prior to the release of Book 3. I finished Book 2 just two days after Book 3 came out. Thus, I read them all back-to-back. I also was very happy that he publishes his work on ebooks, allowing me instant gratification. I found the first two books very character-driven and had a difficult time putting them down to do important things like go to work or get enough sleep. I loved Niall’s character, and since I live in the United States, the scenery, culture, and language that is familiar to Yorkshire-born Shevdon, as well as his careful research into British history and mythology, lent his books a feeling of authenticity that was refreshing and fascinating.
That said, I found Book 3 to be more plot driven than the first two. For me, the characters lacked the depth of the first two books--especially Niall, who somehow lost his voice. Other characters took the POV role but seemed shallow--more there to move the story along than to share their story with us, the readers.
Shevdon wrapped up most of his his loose ends but at the last moment introduced a parting gift left for Niall that seemed to come out of left field--without leaving a spoiler, nothing about this "gift" was hinted or introduced at other times in the story, even though the series' outcome hinged on its existence. For something that played such a pivotal role in the story, it remained a rather under-developed mystery.
Niall's last scene was clear enough, thanks to a foreshadowing scene earlier in the story, but I still feel that the story is unfinished. I might be able to accept the hero-goes-off-into-the-sunset arc, but the rest of the characters are unresolved in a way that works in a plot-driven story, but is hard for me to swallow in the fine character-driven stories I enjoyed up to Book 3.
I wonder: Is there anything left for Niall to do? Will Alex and Tate have a future? What will Blackbird do now? Surely there must be stragglers from the 7 courts? What will they do? What will become of William? What about Gramawl? What about Katherine and her relationship with Alex?
I would still recommend Shevdon's books and I certainly will read the next thing he publishes. I just wish that next thing would be a resolution for the conflicts in the lives of those left behind.
Posted July 30, 2012
I have thoroughly enjoyed this series. The Feyre world superimposed over the current world is engaging as are the characters. Seeing even more magical abilities in the book is exciting. I am so glad that Niall and Alex are not only growing in their magical abilities but are also growing up. There were still several times when I wanted to slap them but in the end there was improvement. I hope that this growth continues in the future series finale. I also hope that we have seen the last of Katherine as she is truly irritating and is not really conducive to the story any longer---just my opinion as a reader. I will wait expectantly for Mr. Shevdon's future novels as I foresee his talent continuing to grow as well.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 2, 2013
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Posted July 17, 2012
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