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Confessions of a Bibliophile

An aspiring writer and bookstore employee with an incredibly bad book-buying habit... I'll read just about anything (so long as it will appeal to my interests in some way), but my main loves are YA and sci-fi/fantasy. I also like quirky history and science books and will book nerd. A lot. Currently in the process of weeding out my personal library. Find me on Twitter @princess_starr or check out my YA book, Snowfall, on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/240027

With Fate Conspire (Onyx Court, #4)

With Fate Conspire (Onyx Court, #4) - Marie Brennan As much as I love the middle books of the Onyx Court series, I don’t think I’ve had as much fun while reading an installment since I originally picked up Midnight Never Come. When I first read the premise for With Fate Conspire, I was a little apprehensive. While the Victorian aspect (and technology) appealed to me, there was only so much that could be done after the first three books.What grabbed me right from the beginning is that Brennan throws us right into the middle of the plot, and the first thing that’s spelled out is that this is not the Onyx Hall of the past three centuries. One of the big plot points in A Star Shall Fall is that the widespread use of iron in London, as well as Lune’s own injuries are contributing to the unknowing destruction of Onyx Hall, and as this book opens up, we see how far it’s really fallen. There’s a few mentions of courtiers and former court members who still put on the masquerade of the former days of decadence, but most of the focus of the book lies with the grim, dirty, back-stabbing setting of the Goblin Market. It’s a definitely dark side to the faeries that hasn’t been seen since the first book. Even our two focus characters, Dead Rick and Eliza, aren’t members of the upper class. Dead Rick (a minor character up until this point) is literally someone else’s dog; he’s doing as much as he can to get himself out of Nadrett’s grasp. Even though he steals humans and kills others, there’s this sense of nobility about him as he tries to set things right.Eliza is a much different character than any other main mortals from the previous books. (I don’t mean just the fact that she’s a girl.) She knows what she’s looking for—evidence of faeries and who stole her childhood sweetheart, Owen—and will do almost anything short of murdering another human to achieve it. She’s coarse and to-the-point. I like that while Eliza knows a lot about faerie lore, she doesn’t know everything, and recognizes the fact that if she admitted the truth behind her actions to anyone, they would lock her away.I also liked that the plot didn’t solely revolve around the Prince of the Stone. The second and third books had the position—namely, someone fulfilling that role—as a major plot point, and the fact that it’s not the sole focus of the book made it a lot more enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Hodge (again, someone who’s not from the upper class. Yay!), but it was nice to get out of the inner circle of Lune’s court and see the events from the lower faerie and human classes and how things affect them. At the end of A Star Shall Fall, there was a glimpse into the future of the Galenic Society, and I liked seeing how it progressed up to the present point; specifically, how the faerie and mortal scientists came together to use technology to save the Onyx Court. (Case in point: my complete squee-fest when you learn that the faeries want to build a computer, based on Charles Babbage’s designs and help from Ada Lovelace. And when it’s put in action, it’s essentially a magical, steampunk 3-D printer. I have no words about how awesome that is.) However, I do have a nitpick that there really isn’t much more done with Galenic Society, nor does it feel like it’s as influential and widespread as the characters comment. There’s only two new faeries who’ve joined outside of London (Ch’ien Mu and Yvoir), and I really wanted to see more of how both sides were working together.The one thing Brennan does brilliantly in this is her set-up of the reveals. There’s at least three or four major plot points throughout the course of the book, and the lead up is handled really well. She manages to fake out the reader once or twice, and while there’s no real “CALLED IT!” moments, there’s a much stronger growing realization of “OMG, this is what’s happening.” It’s handled well, and doesn’t treat the reader like they’re idiots.My major compliant with the book is the reveal of Nadrett’s plans and his backstory. While it makes sense that we don’t know what’s going on, because Dead Rick doesn’t remember anything from his previous life, there’s still no set-up or mention about what Nadrett is. It comes out of left-field and feels like a convenient way to get rid of him. Also, I wasn’t a fan of the epilogue to this book. Knowing that it’s officially the last book (Marie Brennan has said she may have a few short pieces in mind), there’s still a sense of the series not being finished in the epilogue. It’s a double-edged sword, as I want to know what next for the Onyx Hall and it’s residents, but part of me doesn’t really want to keep following the series up until the modern day. Despite the ending, the rest of the book is utterly FANTASTIC. It brings a whole new level to the Onyx Court canon while drawing back on its roots and previous events without overshadowing the present story. There were several points when I just didn’t want to put the book down, and the writing kept me on my toes and guessing at every development. Highly recommended to fans of the series.