A Feather So Black – Lyra Selene

A Feather So Black by Lyra Selene
Series: Fair Folk #1
Published by Orbit on March 12, 2024
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
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Set in a world of perilous magic and moonlit forests, this seductive romantic fantasy tells the story of a defiant changeling, her cursed sister, and the dangerous fae lord she must defeat to save her family.
In a kingdom where magic has been lost, Fia is a rare changeling, left behind by the wicked Fair Folk when they stole the High Queen's daughter and retreated behind the locked gates of Tír na nÓg.
Most despise Fia's fae blood. But the queen raises her as a daughter and trains her to be a spy. Meanwhile, the real princess Eala is bound to Tír na nÓg, cursed to become a swan by day and only returning to her true form at night.
When a hidden gate to the realm is discovered, Fia is tasked by the queen to retrieve the princess and break her curse. But she doesn’t go with her is prince Rogan, Fia's dearest childhood friend—and Eala’s betrothed.
As they journey through the forests of the Folk, where magic winds through the roots of the trees and beauty can be a deadly illusion, Fia’s mission is complicated by her feelings for the prince…and her unexpected attraction to the dark-hearted fae lord holding Eala captive. Irian might be more monster than man, but he seems to understand Fia in a way no one ever has.
Soon, Fia begins to question the truth of her mission. But time is running out to break her sister's curse. And unraveling the secrets of the past might destroy everything she has come to love.

A Feather So Black by Lyra Selene introduces readers to a new world among an overabundance of “faerie” fantasies. Which, maybe this segment of the genre isn’t my fancy, so perhaps I am not the best judge. I have read many novels featuring the fae, and they all blend together after a while. They have the same clichés, and they get to be predictable. While A Feather So Black had original elements, much I felt I had read previously.  Lyra Selene is a talented author, and her writing style kept my attention far better than other novels I’ve read in the genre, but her new novel just didn’t do it for me.

The Fair Folk took the High Queen’s daughter; in her stead, they left behind a girl gifted—or cursed—with powers of controlling flora. The queen raises Fia as her own child, disciplining and training until she could be described in one word: weapon. Fia loves the woman and calls her “Mother.” The queen only has her best interests in mind, Fia thinks (ha, as if). The High Queen tasks Fia with rescuing the princess from the Fair Folk before Samhaim. Who goes with her? Prince Rogan, Fia’s closest childhood friend and first love, who also happens to be betrothed to the princess.

Childhood best friend and first love? There’s fantasy cliché number one. He seems kind and caring toward Fia, but at least to me, I also found him to be manipulative. Rogan wants Fia to be a certain way, and Fia fits herself into his “box.” She doesn’t think she can be anything else, to the point she denies her true nature and tries to be normal. I didn’t much like Rogan, which was probably Selene’s point. She offered him as a contrast to another character—Irian. The lord of the fae who kidnapped and cursed the princess years ago.

Brooding, misunderstood fae lord? Who defines himself as a “monster?” Who’s a protective alpha? Check, check, and check to the fantasy clichés. From the moment Lyra introduced him, I suspected what would happen. Even more so with the addition of the “If this doesn’t happen, I’ll die” idea. Who do you think Fia will choose: the best friend or the fae lord? One, who holds her back, and the other who breaks her chains?

I have read better fantasy, but I have also read far worse. Even though I found A Feather So Black by Lyra Selene to be predictable, I enjoyed it. I rolled my eyes at it sometimes, but Selene still drew me in. There’s more I could say, but I can’t without spoiling. Just a note: A Feather So Black does have some language and sex, though the latter is more tasteful (if that’s possible) than some scenes I’ve encountered. Or rather, skipped, as I didn’t have eye bleach on hand. I just felt it was worth the warning.