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Darklight by Lesley Livingston
BOOK CLUB REVIEW, March 2010, by Jenny McWha
by Lesley Livingston
Watch the video Interview where Jenny McWha meets Lesley Livingston for a coffee to discuss her book 'Darklight'. The second book in the 'Wondrous Strange' Trilogy. Scroll down to read the Book Review!
If you like browsing the bookstore, you, like me, have probably noticed the two crazes that are sweeping teen literature: vampires and fairies. I’ve already brought vampires to you (Twilight), so I figured it was time to explore the second, fairies, which led me to review Darklight, by Lesley Livingston.
Darklight is the second book in a planned trilogy after 'Wondrous Strange'. Now, I haven’t read the first book, so you’ll have to bear with me!
This part of the story begins after Kelley Winslow had discovered her true heritage: she is really a Fae princess, stolen from that magical realm as a baby and raised as a mortal. Now, she is trying to live a quasi-normal life, as normal as can be when you have a magical model as your roommate, people keep trying to kill you in Central Park, and you have an evil mom who keeps trying to talk to you through mirrors. And it’s about to get even more strange, when a pair of ultra-powerful leprechauns decide that she should be dead. The story follows her as she goes in and out of the fairy realm (and gets united and separated from her changeling-warrior boyfriend, Sonny). Not only does she have to help keep the balance between the mundane and the marvelous, but she also has to learn her lines for the new play she’s in. Being a teen can be so hard sometimes.
The Good: Overall, I found both the premise and story of this book really interesting. One of the great things that I just loved was how Livingston incorporated so much Shakespeare! You girls know that I will take any opportunity to get you to read and love Shakespeare as much as me. Well, in this world, it turns out that Oberon and Titiania, the fairy king and queen from 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream', are actually real. This is a really nice, refreshing, touch to a book that belongs to a genre that can be somewhat redundant. Livingston has truly brought something to the table that I have never seen before. I especially liked the explanation of Mercutio’s mysterious Queen Mab speech from 'Romeo and Juliet' (I can’t be the only one who wonders, right?). Overall, I thought this touch was very cool and I hope it inspires more people to read Shakespeare! I also think, but I’m not sure, that I saw some references to the original Urban Fantasy: Emma Bull’s 'War for the Oaks'. It’s great how the book takes into account that it's the latest in a long line of the 'Faerie Story'. I also liked how Livingston didn’t seem to treat teens like they didn’t know anything. She sometimes used big words, and used a lot of Irish mythology. A lot will be familiar to readers who are used to books like this, but she also makes sure to explain things so everyone is on the same page. This is truly urban fantasy, as it takes place partly in New York City, and Central Park is almost like a character (you’ll see what I mean when you read it). That also makes this book interesting, and the story is definitely something that I haven’t encountered before. Livingston mixes the richness of what has come before with her own ideas, and the result is simply magical.
Downside: While I really enjoyed this book, there were some things that brought it down for me. First off, when I got the book, I was really excited that Livingston was Canadian, and lived in Toronto! I was happy that a fantasy novel would finally be set in my own country, maybe even near where I live! However, she set the story in New York City instead. While there is a plausible reason for this, I hope the author decides to set a future book in Toronto. It would make me happy! I also found her writing style a little hard to jive with sometimes. The book is often weighed down with a LOT of explanation. I would like to have seen things being shown, rather than explained. It can be tough to do, but it can be done. On a similar note, I felt that she tried to put a lot of the mythology-fairy aspect in, and the book could have done with a few less creatures and a few less titles/names for each one. However, Livingston still is a fairly new writer, and I have hope that she will only improve as she goes on.
Ages: 12 and up should be good. There is a little bit of violence but it is dealt with in a good way.
Other Books: Whooee, there are a lot to recommend. Another teen urban fantasy that I have read and enjoyed is 'Tithe' and its sequels by Holly Black. If you are an older teen and you get your parents permission, try THE original urban fantasy, Emma Bull’s, 'War for the Oaks'. If you want some history mixed in with your Fae, I really enjoyed 'An Earthly Knight'' by Janet McNaughton, which was nominated for the Red Maple Award'. It tells the story of Tam Lin, which is a traditional legend. There are a bunch more out there for you to discover!
Rating: 2 thumbs up!