Strangeness and Charm by Mike Shevdon

(2012-04-16)

Strangeness and Charm by Mike Shevdon

Published by Angry Robot Books, June 2012
Advanced copy for review

Review by N.E. White.

Strangeness and Charm by Mike Shevdon is the third book in the Courts of the Feyre series. The events of this story take off soon after the events of the last, The Road to Bedlam. After Niall Petersen, our hero, managed to save his daughter, Alex, from human experimenters, he finds himself and his family tearing at each other throats. There are also all the other inmates of the special hospital that held the half-fey mongrels set loose on the world and Garvin, the head of the Court’s Warders, has given Niall the responsibility of bringing them all in before they upset the Human-Feyre treaty. If Niall doesn’t or can't do it, Garvin will send the other Warders and they won’t be as nice. As a matter of fact, they’ll probably kill the mongrels rather than deal with bringing them in. But all Niall wants to do is help them.

As if that wasn’t enough, after Niall makes a belated attempt to inform Alex’s mother, his ex-wife Katherine, that her daughter is still alive, Alex runs away. Niall’s situation worsens as he seems to make more relational blunders by ignoring the mother of his newborn son, Blackbird, earning the ire of his new wife. The poor guy is just not catching any breaks.

Meanwhile, Garvin is increasing the pressure for him to do something about all the dangerous mongrels. While attempting to do so, Niall also trys to find his daughter, but his efforts only drive her farther away and into the clutches of one scary, young half-fey - Eve.

Eve is determined to end the world. But she needs four people to do it, one each of the elements: earth, air, fire, and water. She has three of them down, but needs the last. It just so happens that Alex blunders into their lair when Eve needs someone with her sympathy - water. Unaware of Eve’s ultimate goal to end the universe, Alex helps her steal ancient artifacts and further drives a wedge between her and the Courts of the Feyre.

Will Niall manage to convince the skittish mongrels to come in peaceably before Garvin loses his patience and declares war on them? Will he and Blackbird find Alex in time, before Eve is able to make good on her crazy ambitions? And what about Niall’s prophecy that keeps cropping up to muddy the waters: “The son shall rise and they will fall.” Is that son or sun? Who will fall? And what, will become of the mongrels, half-human and half-fey? No one seems to want them - except dead.

Well, I could tell you, but that wouldn’t be nice.

This installment of the Courts of the Feyre series is a fine continuation of Niall Petersen’s story. Again, not as fast paced as the first in the series, and not as spectacular as the second (in my opinion), but I very much enjoyed Strangeness and Charm. Mr. Shevdon continues to show his readers fresh insights about his characters and his wonderful imagination manifests in the fey magic mixes with human blood to create interesting fey-mongrels.

I was disappointed that some of the wonderful waithkin monsters, those sympathetic to the void, the spaces between, were not present in Strangeness and Charm. This book definitely focuses more on Alex, Niall’s daughter, and her struggle to control her ability and freedom. She is scarred and traumatized from her incarceration and makes some serious mistakes, as any teenager might do. However, I just couldn’t get into her story. She was too self-centered for my tastes. I found myself wishing someone would take her aside and slap some sense into her. I suppose, if Mr. Shevdon was trying to accurately portray an annoying and rebellious teenager, he succeeded. I couldn’t stand her.

I did enjoy the return of Blackbird to the story. As hard it would be for a mother with a newborn to leave her child, she manages to get back into the chase. As she helps Niall find Alex, and consequently Eve and her posse, I was reminded of her quick wit and the reason why I fell in love with Mr. Shevdon's world. The pace of the book soared for me whenever Blackbird alighted on the page. Next to Niall, she’s my favorite character in this series, making her ascension to the throne of the Eighth Court all that more satisfying.

Strangeness and Charm will be published by Angry Robot June, 2012. If you have read the first two in this series, you won’t want to miss the third. Recommended!

A fourth book, The 8th Court, is eagerly anticipated early in 2013.

N.E. White, March 2012.

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