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This review is from: Black Feathers (Black Dawn) (Mass Market Paperback)
Typical you wait years for a Joseph D'Lacey book and then three come along at once. Following hot on the heels of the excellent Snake Eyes and Blood Fugue, Black Feathers is the first volume in a proposed duology and it's the book I have been waiting for D'Lacey to write, let me explain.
Black Feathers tells the tale of two adolescent children, Gordon Black and Megan Maurice who are entwined in a journey despite occupying different periods of time. A prophecy tells of the Crowman, "a dark man is coming and he signals the end of everything we know" and both Gordon and Megan are special players in this prophecy. Neither has any real idea of their importance but gradually those around them begin to take an interest and it's not long before they are separated from their families and thrust into an epic quest to prevent the forthcoming apocalypse.
A simple battle of dark versus light is of course a well used (and frequently abused) theme but this book handles it in an altogether new and interesting way. D'Lacey's work has always been full of morality, from the anti-factory farming message in Meat to the eco-horror of Garbage Man, but in Black Feathers, Joseph D'Lacey has integrated his messages much more subtly without losing any of their power. Gordon's land is a place threatened by climate change and a totalitarian government known as the Ward. Feeding on the greed and terror of the populace, the Ward are a frighteningly realistic vision of the future.
Contrast that realism with the mythology of the Crowman and the folklore of the Crow and you have all the ingredients for a fascinating morality tale. Even better is the fact that D'Lacey, in this first volume at least, doesn't clarify whether the light or dark path is correct. So we end up with two heroes, Gordon and Megan, who may in fact be headed for conflict.
What really makes the book though is D'Lacey's writing. His early tales were good but this is better than good. Loaded with atmosphere, this is a book that draws on all that mythology, all that folklore and creates magic from it. At times a fast paced thriller, at others a poetic eulogy to nature it's always literary, intelligent and thought provoking.
Regular readers of my reviews will know that I have always held Joseph D'Lacey in high regard but this writing raises him into the upper echelons of horror literature. Highly recommended.