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Silverblind (Ironskin) by Tina Connolly
Review by Drew Bittner
Tor Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765375148
Date: 07 October 2014 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Adora "Dorie" Rochart--the near-feral child of Ironskin--has grown up. Now a college graduate, the half-fey girl wants to do field work for the Queen's Lab. But there are dark doings afoot, with strange silvermen hunting any who might be touched by the fey and a curious race to acquire wyvern eggs. Without realizing it, Dorie is in mortal peril...and she isn't alone.

In Silverblind, Tina Connolly completes the trilogy begun in Ironskin and continued in Copperhead. England is long past the Great War against the fey and no longer uses the "blue" technologies with which the fey traded. If anything, the fey seem to be nearly gone, with sightings few and far between.

Looking for work now that she is out of school, Dorie interviews with the Queen's Lab but finds they don't want to hire women. Her immutable blonde curls and large blue eyes don't help, either, but she is unable to change them...until she decides that she needs an edge, and reinfuses herself with the fey side she had locked away years before. Reintegrated with that lost side of herself, Dorie is able to become intangible and nearly invisible, which helps her find a wyvern egg--and thus prove herself useful to the Lab. It also puts her back in contact with her cousin Tam, also a field researcher, though he doesn't see through the disguise Dorie constructs.

With Tam and his associate Annika, Dorie start collecting wyvern eggs, which are now declared property of the Crown. Dorie begins to wonder why, then learns that albumen from a just-hatched egg is a sovereign remedy for fey contamination--it is deadly poison to the fey. Having met one of the few remaining ironskins (humans infected with fey stuff and are thus cursed unless they wear iron over their scars), Dorie decides that she will use some of the eggs she discovers to cure the afflicted.

She proceeds with her plan, even as Tam makes plans to find the elusive basilisk: a mythic creature whose eggs are said to hold the key to controlling the fey. Dorie and Tam make fateful discoveries on their own; when they compare notes, they realize that they just might have discovered the secret of the basilisk.

Acting on her own, Dorie infiltrates a hidden place--and sees a dizzying number of alternate worlds spin past her. There are alternate Dories and alternate Tams...and worlds where Dorie did not betray her cousin and earn his hatred.

Events at the Lab add up, however, and Dorie realizes that the fey are being systematically hunted and destroyed. Her artist friend and roommate Jack and close friend Stella inadvertently run afoul of the silvermen, putting Dorie at risk, and when a procedure demanded of Lab workers temporarily negates Dorie's fey powers...things are dire indeed. Her only hope is finding the basilisk and hoping the old legends are true.

Connolly gives her alternate England a rousing send-off in this volume, wherein a young woman has to contend not only with sexism but also the reflex hatred of the fey. She cannot be herself around anyone but Tam, the cousin she hurt cruelly years before, and his hate and distrust of her means she cannot even reveal herself to him without risking everything. With enemies like Dr. Pearce and the ominous silver-handed constables lurking around, not to mention the landlady they've stiffed on rent, Dorie is always in danger of some kind. However, she is a clever and resourceful character, with a fair mix of strengths and weaknesses, and her resolution of the fey's genocide is smart indeed.

Tam is a latter-day enchanted, having a fey gift of which he's unaware in trade for the months he spent among them. He has a more-than-professional bond with Annika, a German student who is drawn to Tam, but he develops a bond with Dorie (albeit in disguise) and displays great insight into the subjects he studies.

The end of the story strongly suggests that this is the last adventure in this world. However, Connolly is a remarkable writer and we look forward to her next book--wherever it may take us.

Recommended.

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