In Taylor's debut fantasy, humans are unknowingly releasing demons into the world-demons trapped in bottles 25,000 years ago by armies of faeries. Young faerie Magpie Windwitch, whose grandfather is the West Wind and whose role in the emerging conflict seems ominously important, works to put those demons back into the bottles that held them for so long. It's a tough job, especially since the seven Djinn that created the world and all of its creatures (except, of course, humans) went into hiding 4,000 years ago. A particularly nasty demon, the Blackbringer, seems determined to attack Dreamdark, the place the world was created; Magpie and her faithful band of crows head there to warn the sleeping Djinn, Magruwen, that one of his fellow immortals has already been killed by the Blackbringer. But Magruwen has grown weary of the world; in a perfectly rendered scene, Magpie has to reason with an idle god and convince him that the world is worth saving. "Sure the past can't be undone, but it can be forgiven.... How much finer will it be to build a new age on forgiveness than on anguish?" There's a hint of darkness to Taylor's setting, which belies its origin (she originally conceived her creatures for a line of faerie-themed greeting cards and ornaments). It's a fresh take on a well-worn milieu, and the author's knack for faerie dialogue, replete with its own interjections, clichés and turns of phrase, makes for engaging escapism. Ages 10-up. (June)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Sheryl O'Sullivan
An engaging book from a new author, this good vs. evil story will be welcomed by fantasy lovers. The main character, Magpie Windwitch, is a courageous and resilient heroine who takes on the daunting task of defeating the devil, Blackbringer, and saving the known world. Blackbringer is an especially potent devil that was imprisoned in a bottle many years ago before there were any humans. Now, humans keep opening any old bottles they find in the sea, and each time a devil is released. This keeps the entire faery population busy, but Blackbringer is a particularly vile devil with the power to unmake the world. Magpie, granddaughter of the West Wind, enlists the help of Magruwen, most powerful of all the elementals to defeat and recapture Blackbringer. An underlying theme of the book also has to do with the importance of keeping the old stories alive. It is the forgetting of these stories that leads to the forgetting of the deep truths. The book is long (437 pages), has many characters, a complex plot, and many subtle themes making it a book for proficient readers, but for the fantasy-loving child who likes a challenge, this book will be a fine read. Reviewer: Sheryl O'Sullivan
VOYA - Jessica Mize
At the time that the Djinn created all things, seven champions captured all the devils in bottles and cast them to sea. The bottles were secured by spells that nothing then alive could undo. One millennium later, humans appeared. No faerie knew how or why, but "mannies" began undoing what the champions had fought to contain, and now devils are on the loose again. Magpie Windwitch is an elemental faerie. She is the granddaughter of the West Wind and the only devil-hunting faerie in Dreamdark. She and her band of crows are hunting the worst devil of all, Black Bringer, whose hunger knows no limit and whose goal is to suffocate the world created by the Djinn. Taylor creates a familiar world using magical creatures with which readers will identify: faeries, imps, dragons, and magical animals. Like many unsuspecting heroes, Magpie uncovers truths about her past, secrets about her world, and steps into a leadership role that she never meant to hold. She becomes a savior for her world simply by being sincere, industrious, and morally driven. Taylor drives the story forward by slowly teasing the reader with twists and turns in the plot. What seems to be a story about a devil-hunting faerie turns gradually into more, and never does the narrative feel contrived to reach the end. Magpie's heroic accomplishment is not achieved alone, nor is it accomplished without mistakes along the way. Teen readers will identify with this faerie's humanness.
KLIATT - Cara Chancellor
Ever since one incredibly clever devil granted three wishes to the humans who freed him from his fairy prison, Magpie Windwitch's work has grown exponentially. No fairy would be foolish enough to uncork the spelled silver bottles found floating in the ocean, but now that humans have begun to do so en masse, it has become apparent that no fairy, save Magpie, is brave enough to leave Dreamdark forest in order to track down and recapture the devils once they have been let loose. Magpie's already difficult mission is complicated considerably when she finds an uncorked bottle bearing the seal of the Magruwen, the king of the seven powerful Djinn who dreamed the entire world into existence before mysteriously disappearing several hundred years ago. In its wake, the newly freed devil leaves only traces of darkness, a memory of hunger, andunthinkablya dead Djinn called the Vritra. The tapestry of the world begins to unravel with Vritra's death, and it is up to Magpie to save not only the Magruwen, but also the very existence of her race. Taylor's book is one of those remarkable works of storytelling in which the sheer merit of the plot and characters will draw in readers of any age or skill level, despite the fact that it is not as challenging as typical adult fiction. Magpie herself is incredibly intelligent, slightly uncouth, and utterly charming; being approximately 100 years old, she also is not limited in her appeal to any specific age group. The story itself is strikingly similar to Fern Gully (1992, animated), with a dark force trying to destroy fairy woods and a magical matronly figure intervening, but Taylor improves on the story so substantially that even jadedfantasy readers will find this to be a satisfying breath of fresh air.
Featuring both an uncommonly well-conceived setting and buckets of high-energy action, Taylor's debut tale of a thumb-sized devil hunter who comes this close to meeting her match belongs at the top of everyone's fantasy must-read list. Having discovered that ignorant humans are actually releasing brutish devils from the enchanted bottles into which they had been forced 25,000 years ago, young Magpie Windwitch has set herself to flitting about the planet with a bevy of ageless crows to recapture them. But devil number 24 turns out to be a different sort of proposition altogether-a shapeless mass of darkness and hatred that "uncreates" its victims and is out to unweave the warp and weft of the world itself. By the time devil and hunter have squared off in Dreamdark, a bespelled wood that hides the last great Faerie settlement, 'Pie has discovered that she has more abilities, and a role to play in larger events, than she had ever dreamed. Taylor carries her Faerie world well beyond its recognizably Victorian base, and crafts a memorably clever, intrepid insect-winged heroine to save it. (Fantasy. 11-13)