Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr
Lilywhite Abernathy is a criminal. Her father’s “unconventional” business has meant a life of tightly held secrets, concealed weaponry, and a strict code. But Lily’s crime isn’t being the daughter of a powerful mob boss. Her guilt lies in the other half of her DNA–the part that can coax ancient rumors from stones and summon fire with a thought. Lily is part fae, which is a crime in her world.
— From the book jacket of Seven Black Diamonds
Set in a world where faeries exist alongside humans, the Queen of Blood and Rage has started an ongoing war with the humans after the death of her infant daughter, the heir to the Hidden Throne of the faery world. Because of the war, those with fae-blood, like Lilywhite Abernathy, have been forced to hide what they are, for fear of being arrested or killed.
The tagline on the cover states, “Fueled by rage. Set on revenge.” which I assume refers to the Queen. This is slightly misleading, however. There is an occasional glimpse into the Hidden Lands of the fae world, but more time is spent in the human world following the Black Diamonds–or Sleepers as they are often referred–the Queen’s hand-picked faery terrorist cell. Using their affinities for air, water, fire, and earth, they carry out planned attacks on humans, causing death and destruction in their wake.
Or at least that’s what they’re supposed to do. While these missions are referenced often, there is only one scene at the beginning of the book that takes us along for one. The rest of the time is spent on repetitive introductions of the Black Diamonds–a host of eye-rolling cliche characters. It feels like The Breakfast Club meets Gossip Girl in the faery world. There’s the bad boy, the athlete-type, the nerd, the surfer, the impulsive badass chick, the daddy’s girl… It’s all there. Everyone is beautiful. Everyone is rich and famous. They’re followed by paparazzi and end up in all the tabloids. There’s even a love-triangle and the token LGBTQ characters (which, aside from two scenes with Roan at the beginning and one flashback of a conversation between Will and his mother, they are merely names rather than characters. They’re completely underdeveloped, even more so than the rest of the two-dimensional cast, and NEVER part of the action–just referred to as being elsewhere at the time). It’s nearly 200 pages of angsty rich kids hanging out in the VIP section of a dance club or the boarding school they attend.
The only time I felt invested in the story was the glimpse into the Hidden Lands of the fae world. While the characters still weren’t fully developed, I was much more interested in their storyline. Give me a whole story on The Queen of Blood and Rage (amazing title, btw) and/or her youngest daughter Eilidh. The Queen is a fierce warrior who marched into the Seelie King’s court and demanded they marry to unify the courts. Eilidh is described as being covered in scars that earn her the nickname, Patches, and, as the heir to the throne, has been living, isolated, in a glass tower for her whole life. None of this is explained, just stated as fact to accept. Give me a background story on these characters, because I cared more for them than the Black Diamonds.
Or better yet, give me an action story about the Sleepers and their missions. Show me the death and destruction, the turmoil of the war declared by the Queen. Give me a glimpse of the emotional strain that these missions have on the Sleepers, the psychological damage that must exist from being created as nothing more than a weapon. Give me something to get lost in, instead of something that sounds like the fan-fiction my friends and I used to write in middle school.
I really wanted to like it. I loved the idea of the world and the war and of faery sleeper cells. I kept waiting for the big moment–the drama that would pull me in. But I just couldn’t get into it. I wanted so much more than I was given.
Because of some references to violence and sexual relationships, alcohol use, and very mild language (I counted approximately 3 instances of the f-word), I’d recommend it for high school and beyond.
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