Book review: Silverblind by Tina Connolly (Tor Books, 2014)
18 years later . . .
Dorie Rochart has been hiding her fey side for a long time. Now, finished with University, she plans to study magical creatures and plants in the wild, bringing long-forgotten cures to those in need. But when no one will hire a girl to fight basilisks, she releases her shapechanging fey powers–to disguise herself as a boy.
While hunting for wyvern eggs, she saves a young scientist who’s about to get steamed by a silvertail– and finds her childhood friend Tam Grimsby, to whom she hasn’t spoken in seven years. Not since she traded him to the fey. She can’t bear to tell him who she really is, but every day grows harder as he comes to trust her.
The wyverns are being hunted to extinction for the powerful compounds in their eggs. The fey are dying out as humans grow in power. Now Tam and Dorie will have to decide which side they will fight for. And if they end up on opposite sides, can their returning friendship survive?
Silverblind is the third book in what I believe is a trilogy. The first one, Ironskin, was a steampunky Jane Eyre-based novel which introduced us to the Fey. Book two, Copperhead, was based on Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and felt like it brought the narrative to a kind of close, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from Silverblind. Would it perhaps be based on Wuthering Heights?
First of all, no, I don’t think it’s based on anything – unless it’s based on some classical work of which I’m not familiar, of course. Secondly, the narrative picks up 18 years after Copperhead, so that’s how that problem’s solved. Dorie, the little girl from the first book, is now a young, independent woman in want of a job. Failing to get one, on the basis of her being female, she decides to try her luck as a male. Because she’s half Fey, she has some powers and can shapeshift.
When she – as a man – encounters a childhood friend she had a falling out with, things get complicated. Can she tell him who she really is? The fact that she also manages to become mummy/daddy to a baby wyvern and discovers a way to help the few remaining Ironskin, it complicates things even more.
I really enjoyed this novel and whenever I had to put it down it was begrudgingly done. While I was never entirely clear on exactly what a wyvern is (aside from a shopping district in Derby), based on the description given, I took it to be a sort of mini dragon, which is apparently sort of accurate. As little Woglet is very cat-like in his behaviour, I instantly took a liking to him, which added to the overall liking of the story.
The characters were likable and I enjoyed spending my time in their company. They are rebels, freedom fighters, civil rights activists, and animal rights campaigners all rolled into one and I love that. It brings up a lot of important topics – racism, sexism, size-ism, homophobia – and while society as a whole isn’t particularly open-minded, the main characters are. Even though Dorie and Tam were once very close, it doesn’t mean that they necessarily have to become a couple and live happily ever after, so that was refreshing.
Perhaps because the book wasn’t based on anything [familiar to me], there wasn’t the distraction of seeing parallels with the original, which is what I did for the first two novels in the series. It allowed me to read Silverblind without preconceptions, and enjoy it as a dark fantasy set in a world not unlike the early 1900s. And I loved that.
4.8 out of 5 wyvern eggs.
Silverblind in hardcover and Kindle edition and should be available in all major bookshops.
Many thanks to the friendly folks at Tor Books for providing a review copy of this book! 🙂