Review: Black Feathers by Joseph D'Lacey

imageBlack Feathers

Series: The Black Dawn

Author: Joseph D’Lacey

Publisher: Angry Robot

Genre: Fantasy

Release date: April 2013


It is the Black Dawn, a time of environmental apocalypse, the earth wracked and dying.

It is the Bright Day, a time long generations hence, when a peace has descended across the world.

In each era, a child shall be chosen. Their task is to find a dark messiah known only as the Crowman. But is he our saviour – or the final incarnation of evil?

My thoughts:

This was a book that made me stop and think. Not just while I was reading, but after. This doesn’t happen often; I usually go through books fast enough — even after my tiniest tiny human was born — to go easily from one book to the next. But this book was different. Oh, don’t get me wrong — it’s still an apocalyptic book. But it has elements of…something akin to religion. Only it’s not religion. (See what I mean about the thinking thing?)

Let me back up. This book (and it’s sequel, The Book of the Crowman) centre around the Crowman. And this is where it gets a little religious-like. The Crowman is supposed to arrive on Earth and save the planet from humanity’s terrible doings. (Sound familiar?) But! The terrible doings of humanity revolve not around things like the definition of marriage or whatever the hell else society argues about these days. No, they revolve around not honouring the planet; about environmental decay; about focusing too much on technology.

Okay, so I suppose some people do argue about those things. In any case, while reading this book, I started thinking that perhaps the march of progress…wasn’t really progress. That perhaps too much technology could be a bad thing. The book, from what I could tell, takes the view that moving too far from nature is a negative thing. People start thinking that they can rule over the planet and master nature and everything in it. (But really, when you think about it, that does happen.)

The Crowman is supposed to return to bring humanity back to nature, to regain its relationship with the land. But the Ward — who seem to be the technology advanced pocket of society — want to stop that from happening. (I assume because they like being in power and all that.) Our hero, Gordon Black, goes on a quest to find the Crowman and help the people revolt against the Ward’s tyrannical rule. While doing so, the Crowman takes on a Messiah-like mien. Which, of course, goes back to the whole religious-like thing I mentioned earlier.

The book has parallel stories: one is Gordon’s, highlighting his search for the Crowman; the other is Megan Maurice’s — she is the last Keeper of the Crowman, the last in a long line of people who keep the Crowman’s story alive. The parallel storylines angle could’ve been good or bad, but I thought it worked wonderfully. In another book it might not have worked quite so well, but with Mr. D’Lacey’s writing and storytelling style, it worked great. The only thing I wasn’t a fan of was the seemingly random passages in first person POV (from Denise’s point of view). It was far too random and didn’t fit into the rest of the book.

Speaking of Mr. D’Lacey’s writing style, I thought it had an almost lyrical quality in some parts, as if the book were retelling a myth (which I suppose it was, in the case of Gordon’s story). Overall, I really enjoyed Black Feathers and immediately began the second book after I finished it. I found the plot and premise to be quite fascinating. It may not be a book for everyone, but I was rather surprised by how much I liked it.




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