Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Review: "And Blue Skies from Pain" by Stina Leicht

I thought Stina Leicht’s opening book of the Fey and the Fallen, “Of Blood and Honey,” showed a lot of promise. The second book, “And Blue Skies from Pain” ($14.99, Nightshade Books ), though delivers exactly what I hoped it would.

With the background of the story and the political volatility of 1970s Ireland established in the first book, this one gets down to the business of the supernatural war. Liam Kelly, after discovering he is half-fey in the first book, has submitted to be tested by the Catholic Church to prove that he is human and stop the church’s violence against the fey. For ages, the militant arm of the church, charged with hunting down and destroying fallen angels, has made no distinction between the fallen and the fey. Now, at the urging of Liam’s friend Father Joseph Murray, the church has called an uneasy truce until it can be determined whether the two are different.

Naturally, there are elements in the church that don’t want it proven that the fey are not fallen angels. It’s an uncomfortable question for the best among the warrior priests and a downright onerous thought for many who have spent their lives cruelly executing what they thought were evil beings.

Of course, that’s not all that Liam has to contend with. He’s still coming to grips with the fey side of himself, which up to this point he’s considered a monster, and he’s yet to deal with the grief over the loss of his wife and friends who died because of his participation in the IRA. And of course, as much as he wants to be, it’s hard to remain free of his former political affiliations, and he gets pulled back in against his will.

Where “Of Blood and Honey” seemed like a set up book, “And Blue Skies from Pain” really gets to the meat of what this series is going to be about. Leicht held back much of the supernatural element in the first volume while focusing on establishing who Liam was and putting into the motion the events that will drive him in the future. Though I questioned the backburner for those elements in my review of the first book, as I read, “And Blue Skies from Pain,” I began to see how it all worked together and how the focus on Liam’s character and surroundings rather than his heritage helped me understand him a little better.

In this one, the fantasy elements move to the forefront as he begins to discover more about that side of himself, and they take the forefront. We’re more than halfway through the book before we’re thrown back into the political conflict of the time, and at that point, we begin to see just a little bit about how that conflict and the one between the fey, the church and the fallen are connected. It sent my mind down several intriguing possible paths. It will be interesting to see how Leicht advances that aspect of the story in the future.

Leicht’s series has one of the most intriguing settings of any urban fantasy series that I’ve come across and gives the main character a real-world threat and problems that put him in just as much danger as the fantasy elements. I like that approach. “And Blue Skies from Pain” was a great read and everything that I hoped we would get from the subsequent books in the series. I can’t wait to see what’s next for Liam.

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