Review: Black Feathers (Black Dawn #1) Joseph D’Lacey
[Blurb: Black Feathers is a modern fantasy set in two epochs: the Black Dawn, a time of environmental apocalypse, and generations into the future in its aftermath, the Bright Day.
In each era, a child undertakes a perilous journey to find a dark messiah known as The Crowman. In their hands lies the fate of the planet as they attempt to discover whether The Crowman is our saviour… or the final incarnation of evil…]
Black Feathers is a story set in two separate and diverse time periods. Gordon Black lives in the Black Dawn, when the world is coming to an end. Megan Maurice lives in the Bright Day, a period many, many years later, when mankind has returned to a simpler, agricultural existence.
Both of them are special.
Gordon’s parents became aware when he was a child that he was destined for something extraordinary, but they raised him in relative safety and happiness as they tried to protect him from the rising tide of disease, destruction and fascism (in the form of sinister political group ‘The Ward’) that is gripping Britain as he grows up. When Gordon is on the cusp of manhood, circumstances force Gordon out into a disintegrating world on a quest to find the mysterious Crowman…
Megan Maurice, a girl on the cusp of womanhood, has dreams. Dreams of a strange boy, with black hair and gray eyes, Dreams of a man with black feathers, of a man who looks like a crow. Mr. Keeper, the local healing man and lore keeper, recognises her as someone who has been picked out to walk the ‘feathered path’, to become a Keeper like him. If she is successful, she will be the first female keeper. And, according to prophecy, the last…
I really, really enjoyed this book. I thought the elements of horror were woven into fantasy of the novel with real expertise, particularly the sinister officers of The Ward. The mythology of The Crowman is well designed and feels very real (to the extent that I wondered if it had been based on a real mythology that I was unfamiliar with). I love the way that the quests of Megan and Gordon, while very different, still mirror each other in terms of the various challenges they have to overcome and the emotions they elicit.
The characterization of the novel is very well done, with both protagonists and minor characters feeling real and well-rounded. Even his ‘villains’ have logical reasons for their actions, which for me is a real plus.
However, for me, the best part of this book is the way that the ecological themes marry into what feels like a real and honest love for the countryside and nature. At points, I felt that I could almost smell the soil and air of the great outdoors, feel the thrum of natural energy that permeates the natural world. Joseph D’Lacey’s writing is excellent, and has made me want to seek out his other books while I wait impatiently for the sequel!