Review Details

Review type: Book


Author: Lyra Selene

Publisher: Orbit Books


Reviewed by: Elloise Hopkins

Other details: Hardback £18.99.


Elloise Hopkins

The day Fia Ní Mainnín appeared in the High Queen’s home, her daughter Eala, Princess of Fódla, disappeared, taken by the Fair Folk. Fia was adopted by the High Queen and trained tirelessly by her closest advisor, Ollamh Cathair.

Among Fia’s duties to this day is spying on her mother’s behalf, so she has a prince to distract her. It is believed he has kidnapped a member of the Fair Folk – a darrig with the ability to predict the future. But as Fia soon finds out, there is a larger and more dangerous mission heading her way. To make matters worse, Rogan has returned, breaking open old wounds, for no matter how much Fia feels for him, no matter anything that has happened between them in the past, he is still betrothed to Eala.

A hidden gate to the Otherworld has been discovered. Now, Fia must face the task that has been hanging over her for as long as she can remember. Fia is not completely human, which means she is the one who must enter the Otherworld and try to recover the queen’s true daughter. Yet she must wonder… how far is her mother willing to go to recover her child and how much did she ever truly love Fia?

A Feather So Black is the first in a new series that explores the complex ties and precarious balance between fair folk and their neighbouring human kingdoms. The High Queen is desperate for the magic that only Fia can bring her. Underpinning the whole narrative is the question of whether it is really the rescue of her daughter that drives her, or whether it is the potential taking of the Fair Folk’s power, and beyond that, whether Fia will ever know or be able to trust the truth?

Fia narrates the story herself, and we have lots of the typical ingredients of a fantasy romance – star-crossed lovers, impossible dreams, uncontrollable magic, manipulative fae, and the threat of invasion – all building up to a choice where any outcome will have dire consequences on Fia’s own happiness, the ones she loves, and, of course, the kingdom itself.

So far, this story serves up a lot of what we have seen before, though it moves at a good pace, and there is some fantastic world-building. The characterisation is solid enough that we empathise with Fia’s dilemmas, though at times, her naïve acceptance of the things she is told by others does not ring true with someone raised as a spy in a royal household. There are some super supporting characters once you get past the opening sections. Corra is particularly entertaining, and it is just what is needed to break up some of Rogen and Fia’s more morose moments.

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