BookMusings: (Re)Discovering Pagan Literature

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Book Review: Prince of Air and Darkness



Title: Prince of Air and Darkness (The Darkest Court Book One)

Publisher: Carina Press

Author: MA Grant

Pages: 310pp

Price: $3.99 (ebook)

Phineas Smith is a human freak: as the only mortal in existence who can access the magical ley lines which underlay creation, he has been allowed to attend Mather's School of Magick. Unfortunately, Finn has never learned to control the ley lines; every spell he attempts results in an explosion or a fire or bodily injury. Plus, his power is attractive to all the wrong sorts of magical beings; as a result, he gets kidnapped or almost kidnapped or attacked or almost eaten at least once a month. Oh, and did I mention that his roommate is Roark Lyne, the son of Queen Mab herself? Probably a good thing that Finn is unaware that Roark is hopelessly in love with him .... Because that would just take things awkward .... Also, there is the whole matter of the coming war between the Summer and Winter Courts ....

I admit to having a soft spot for paranormal romance. I haven't read any featuring fae characters, though, so I wasn't sure what to expect with Prince of Air and Darkness. Happily, I was in for a pleasant surprise.

Grant does a great job of building and exploring the relationship between Finn and Roark, allowing the reader to see it through both their points of view. Finn can't deny that Roark is attractive, but stubbornly refuses to admit that there might ever be anything more; after all, Roark is an immortal fae prince and Finn is the mortal son of farmers from Iowa; they are -- literally -- from different worlds. Roark, for his part, fell hard and fast for Finn, and is angry at himself for doing so; he was sent by his mother to spy on Finn and make him the Knight of the Winter Court; but becoming the Knight would mean the end of Finn as Finn, and so Roark finds himself torn between love and duty.

The world Grant has created, and the relationship between the two Courts and between the ruling monarchs and their children, is also quite interesting. Mather's School of Magick, for instance, exists behind a glamour in the mortal realm; it is neutral territory, allowing the children of the many pantheons and both fae Courts to mingle, get to know one another, and hopefully help turn a tenuous peace into something more lasting.

The Summer and Winter Courts exist in a precarious balance. Each holds sway over the mortal world for a set period of time, and is then supposed to transfer that power to the other Court. But it turns out that the Summer Court has been withholding some of that power each time, gradually weakening the Winter Court. Additionally, Mab -- as Queen of the Winter Court -- is the caretaker of magic for her realm; the power flows from her, down through her children, and then to all of her subjects. But her eldest son has defected to the Summer Court, she has less power now than she has held in centuries, war is coming, her people are under siege, and the one person who might save them all -- Finn -- is being kept away by Roark.

I do have a few small complaints. Primarily, it feels like chunks of the story are told out of order. Pieces of information that should have appeared earlier in the story (to better orient the reader) don't appear until much later; for example, what happened when Mab kidnapped Finn and Roark came to his rescue. That incident had huge ramifications for all three characters and their relationships, but, instead of just showing the reader what happened, Grant dribbles out information bit by bit through the whole book. Rather than making me curious, that approach just left me frustrated.

Nonetheless, Prince of Air and Darkness is a fun, entertaining (occasionally heart-breaking) and sexy first entry in a new series. I look forward to reading more of Grant's work in the future.

Recommended to fans of KJ Charles, Jordan L Hawk, and TJ Klune.

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Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine Eternal Haunted Summer. She is also the editor-in-chief of Bibliotheca Alexandrina. She thinks it is incredibly unfair that she must work for a living rather than being able to read all day. In her next life, she would like to be a library cat.


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