Tuesday, August 30, 2011

With Fate Conspire - Marie Brennan

About the book

Seven years ago, Eliza's childhood sweetheart vanished from the streets of Whitechapel. No one believed her when she told them that he was stolen away by the faeries.

But she hasn't given up the search. It will lead her across London and into the hidden palace that gives refuge to faeries in the mortal world. That refuge is now crumbling, broken by the iron of the underground railway, and the resulting chaos spills over to the streets above.

Three centuries of the Onyx Court are about to come to an end. Without the palace's protection, the fae have little choice but to flee. Those who stay have one goal: to find safety in a city that does not welcome them. But what price will the mortals of London pay for that safety?

560 pages
Published on: August 30, 2011
Published by: Tor
Author’s webpage

Thanks to Tor for sending me an ARC of this book to review. 


With Fate Conspire is actually the fourth book in a series. Despite the fact that I haven’t read any part of the series before, I decided to give this one a shot. This was after I read some reviews on previous books of the series written by others who were in my position and still enjoyed the books. I took a leap of faith, trusting the fact that this book would be like the others and I could enjoy it without the benefit of the rest of the series. That being said, I think it is important to keep that in mind while reading my review. I don’t have the background others, who are fans of the series would have and thus, it might color my review slightly.

With Fate Conspire takes place during the Industrial Revolution in London, England. The world is bleak and hard, and one can almost taste the smoke in the air from the factories and smell the unwashed bodies of those who are unfortunate enough to eek out a living on the streets. Brennan brought the times to life in With Fate Conspire, and the blazing realism is a huge benefit to the overall novel. One can not only read the book to enjoy the setting, but to also learn a bit about the life of the average Londoner who lived in those times.

I haven’t read many books that use the Industrial Revolution as a jumping off point for a plot in a novel. The idea has honestly never crossed my mind. Brennan took a very unique point in human history and turned it into a pivotal plot point in the novel itself. London comes alive, but so does the parallel city of the Goblin Court, as well as the cultures of both. Not only that, but the Industrial Revolution, specifically the new underground rail system, directly affects both London, and the fae realm.

I should say that I’m not a huge fan of anything fae related in fantasy. Fae seem to be taking the place of vampires and werewolves, in my perspective. I think much of it is becoming overdone and exhausted in literature. However, Brennan’s fae are unique. They have their own distinct culture. They aren’t the beautiful, otherworldly fae that I’m used to reading about. These fae reflect the hard world they are living in. They are rough around the edges and struggling to survive their slowly crumbling world and it shows. Her fae, and her world is a breath of fresh air to much of fantasy, and should be appreciated for that.

With Fate Conspire also deals with three main and very memorable characters who are obviously on a beeline for an impressive meeting. Dead Rick was the most memorable character. However, I have a feeling that if I had spent more time reading the rest of the series the characters would have been more memorable and important to me. As it was, while they were all well done, some of them weren’t quite as realistic as others. Specifically Eliza seemed to be lacking a bit of realism to me. While I could understand her desire to find her childhood sweetheart, many of her actions seemed too cookie-cutter to be believable, and much of her behavior was incredibly predictable. I found this to be disappointing when put in contrast with the incredible world Brennan has built.

The plot is tightly woven and easy to follow, though at times it does lag a bit and the book, as a whole, feels like it takes a little too much time to get from point A to point B. I did feel as though the work could have benefitted from fewer pages. That being said, I didn’t feel as though the (occasionally) slowly progressing plot, or needless pages hindered my enjoyment of the book overmuch.

Despite the fact that I hadn’t read the rest of the series, With Fate Conspire does fairly well as a stand-alone. Brenna does a good job keeping the reader up to speed on events that have happened in previous books. She introduces the characters well and the events seem to flow naturally. While I’m sure reading the series will engender me to the situations and characters more than reading it as a stand-alone, the book itself was understandable and entertaining on its own right, needing nothing else to prop it up.

With Fate Conspire was an entertaining read. Brennan set her work in an impressive historical time and coupled it with wonderfully done research that really sets it apart from many other fantasy books. The plot can be slow moving, and the book does have the feel of having too many overall pages. However, all in all, the story is entertaining, the characters are memorable and the situations are noteworthy. Especially backed with her impressively realistic setting of industrial London. With Fate Conspire is a solid addition to an already strong series.

4/5 stars


  1. I still need to read A Star Shall Fall but I loved the first two titles - I've ordered this one but oddly it's not out in the UK until October!

    Glad you liked it!