The Road to Bedlam by Mike Shevdon

(2012-03-10)

The Road to Bedlam by Mike Shevdon

Published by Angry Robot Books, September 2010           
ASIN: B003ZUYJ4A (Kindle edition)
541 kb (filesize)      

Review by N.E. White.

The Road to Bedlam by Mike Shevdon is the second book in the Courts of the Feyre series. The story begins nine months after the concluding events in Sixty-One Nails, the first book in this series. Niall Petersen, our hero, is training hard to be a Warder of the Seven Courts and Blackbird, his half-feyre partner, is well on her way to being a mom for the first time in her 800 year-or-so existence.

But not all is well in Feyre-land, for Niall receives the worst call any parent can possibly imagine: Niall’s first daughter, Alex, has been in an accident. After rushing to the hospital, and signing away his consent to any and all treatment options for a mysterious biological disease, Niall and his ex-wife, Katherine learn that Alex did not make it.

After the devastating loss of his daughter, Niall unexpectedly learns that maybe she did make it. But he has no time to figure it out because the Untainted, wraithkin, creatures of the dark, have come for a visit. And despite what they may say and no matter how charming Raffmir may seem, nothing good can come of that. Niall is again pitted against both himself and the will of the courts in his quest to save his daughter and, unknowingly, the rest of the mongrels; half-Fey, half-human, the Tainted or Gifted.

Because Niall is a new Warder, barely trained in arms with little to no instruction on how to use his magic, Blackbird is pregnant and most of all because the Untainted’s main goal is to kill the mongrels, especially waithkin mongrels like Niall, he’s got to go. Garvin, the head of the Court’s Warders sends him to find out why girls have gone missing in a small seaside town while the rest of the Warders protect the Court from whatever negotiations the Lord of the Seventh Court wishes to hold.

During his investigation, Niall consults with a powerful feyre, a vicar named Gregory Makepeace, and Raffmir, his Untainted cousin. But he finds no easy answers and Niall is torn between wanting to protect Blackbird who has run from the safety of the court and finding out what happened to Alex. He knows a government agency has her, but he has no way of finding out where. Using his Fey magic and a dream creature, Niall discovers the darker aspects of his nature and is manipulated into doing exactly what the Untainted want: destroy the facility that holds Alex and obtain something that would change the balance the Seven Courts have maintained for centuries.

Though not as fast paced as the first in this series, Mr. Shevdon does not disappoint his fans with The Road to Bedlam. The magical fabric of Mr. Shevdon’s world is expanded in this book. We learn more of how humans have lived alongside the feyre, and how that relationship has grown and changed with the rapid changes modern technology has brought. Niall gets to use some of his newly learned skills against humans and fey. The fight scenes are real and gritty, intense enough to shock, and entirely believable.

The characters develop depth and nuances that will keep you guessing about their motives. I found the relationship between Raffmir and Niall quite interesting, and predict that these two will become either unwilling allies or will fight to the death in a most spectacular fashion in the next book. My only disappointment was there wasn’t enough chapters following Blackbird’s storyline. Though the discovery of Alex’s strange and scary powers made up for the lack of Blackbird. I look forward to meeting the newest member of Niall’s growing clan in the next book.

The use of magic is described in vivid shades of black, gray and violet, evoking some really cool imagery. Mr. Shevdon has a great talent in describing surreal scenes. The way Raffmir uses the Way-nodes reminded me of scenes in Tron (don’t ask, I know the book is nothing like Tron, but that’s what comes to mind), and the wraithkin’s ability to step through the fabric of space is unique. I’m definitely hooked on the series, and I think you will be too. Highly recommended.

The third in this series to be published by Angry Robot, Strangeness and Charm, is expected to be out sometime Summer 2012.

N.E. White, March 2012.

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