A Star Shall Fall, by Marie Brennan

A Star Shall Fall [B&N | Mysterious Galaxy | Amazon] is the third book of Marie Brennan‘s Onyx Court historical fantasy series.  (I’ve also reviewed books one and two.)

The series takes place in a very richly-described, well-researched London, where the Onyx Court of the faeries coexists beneath the city, magically intertwined with the geography and fate of mortal London.

I’ve said in my prior reviews that the first two books have a more leisurely pace in the beginning … but not book three.  A Star Shall Fall opens in 1757.  The dragon of the second book, which caused the Great Fire of 1666, was banished to Halley’s Comet when its original prison began to fail.  In the seventeenth century, nobody knew the comet would be back.  Now their only hope to defeat the dragon upon its return is to combine faerie magic and human science…

This is my favorite of the series so far.  The plotting is sharper, the characters are great, and Brennan continues to blend history and magic so smoothly it’s hard to tell where one ends and the next begins.  I love the way she worked 18th century science, everything from alchemy to astronomy, into the story.  I loved seeing Lune struggle with her weaknesses, both from the damage to her realm and from the iron wound she received in book two.  Those vulnerabilities made me cheer for her even harder.

The young and untested Prince of the Stone Galen was a nice addition as well, and it was great to see him develop over the course of the story.  I was glad to see Irrith back, rough edges and all.  Delphia, Abd al-Rashid, the von das Tickens … they’re all wonderful characters.  Even the faerie villain was well-developed, to the point where I almost sympathized with him at times, even when I was hoping he’d take an iron bullet to the heart.  (The human villain felt a little flat in comparison, but only a little.)

And the ending … well, there’s a reason I showed up exhausted for work last week.  Authors are, at their best, simultaneously cruel and beautiful.  Well done, Brennan.

The book comes out August 31 of this year.  Like the others, it’s not an action-packed adventure.  But if you’ve read the first two, you have to pick this one up.  If you haven’t, A Star Shall Fall stands alone fairly well.  You’ll be missing a little backstory, but nothing that should keep you from truly enjoying the book.

Read an excerpt from the book.

Pictures from one of Brennan’s research trips to London.