Readers of the Blood Ties series will be pleasantly surprised at Armintrout’s foray into the world of the Faery wars. Unlike the Blood Ties world, where Armintrout’s gift for quirky histories is a bit limited due to its connection with the “real,” the Lightworld/Darkworld series provides enough space for this author’s imagination to fly free.
Ayla is half-Human and half-Faery. She’s only 25, a mere fetus in Fae years, and has only lived in the Lightworld for the last five years. She grew up on the Strip, the neutral zone between the two territories, and spent her youth and childhood stealing, hustling, and struggling to survive. Her Faery mother abandoned her. Her Human father had no idea what to do with his halfling child. Now, Ayla is an Assassin, one of the Queene’s chosen warriors, and the beloved of Garrett, the Queene’s brother. She’s not happy, but the casual scorn of the full-blooded Fae is infinitely better than the hunger and despair of the Strip. That is… until she meets Malachi, a Darkling fallen Angel. Malachi and Ayla begin a romance powerful enough to change the world. Their love is threatened, however, when Garrett tries to use Ayla as a tool in realizing his ambitions for the throne.
I was surprised by how engrossed I was. Blood Ties‘ major flaw (to me, anyways) is that its first-person perspective is limited to that of Carrie, who’s an emotional neophyte. Carrie describes her physical and action-based responses to her emotions, but because she gives very little thought to her own inner life, these descriptions feel profoundly shallow. In Lightworld/Darkworld, both Ayla and Malachi are new to experiencing such mortal emotions as love, jealousy, and envy. Their immediate, almost child-like responses feel incredibly nuanced and very real. Plus, I really, really enjoyed the world’s mythos. Basically, it is set post-Age of Aquarius. The Humans’ use of magic, crystals, and returning to the Goddess broke down the Veil between the Lightworld, the Darkworld, and the Human world. The Human were driven down into the sewers and subway stations, and the Fae ruled above-ground. BUT THEN, the Humans were all, “Oh HELL no,” and re-took their cities and groves. Now the magical folks live in the sewers, the Humans live above-ground, and everyone is really bitter that after causing all this havoc the gods and goddesses have apparently disappeared. Ayla and Malachi’s union (the child of which would be a product of Human, Fae, and Darkling) may hold the key to the return of these absent deities and the restoration of the magical world of the sewers and tunnels to the world above-ground.
I generally don’t like tragic mulatto stories, or stories about how mixed race babies will save the world. I’m willing to let that aspect slide, simply because this was such a fun, wryly humorous work.