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Road to Bedlam by Mike Shevdon

Road to Bedlam

by Mike Shevdon

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Courts of the Feyre (2)

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154477,562 (3.92)2



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Way less interesting than the first book, standard urban fantasy in the vein of Mercedes Lackey. Less Neverwhere Magic, more vanilla adventure. The Fey are not very feyish and everyone are whining and unpleasant. ( )
  Schedim | May 9, 2014 |
The Road to Bedlam, second in Mike Shevdon's "Courts of the Feyre" series, picks up shortly after the events in Sixty-One Nails. Gentle reader, if you have not picked up Sixty-One Nails, do so now and spare yourself leaping in headfirst to an intricately constructed world. While a new reader could start at book two, it is like investigating da Vinci's works in stereoscope or only through the medium of your fingertips. You will be missing vast swathes that render this series so engrossing, charming, and eloquent.

As per my previous review for Sixty-One Nails, I especially enjoy the publisher, Angry Robot, delivering us a host of talented authors from the other side of the Pond. British authors bring a particularly wicked sense of humour and a very deft touch for contemporary fantasy not so much seen in our own crop of American authors, a few traits definitely lacking. I want the engrossing historical background and the smarmy language, the diverse voices, the different cultural backdrop of a country settled for twenty centuries. It's a lovely cultural milieu and Shevdon uses these tools liberally to make his masterpieces.

In The Road to Bedlam, half-faerie Niall Petersen and his heavily pregnant partner, Blackbird, are settling into a new life. Niall adopts the role of a Warder for the leaders of the Seven Courts about as well as can be expected for a neophyte among centuries-old Fey. In other words, he gets his backside handed to him on a regular basis and bruised up faster than a peach in a rock tumbler. Meanwhile, Blackbird waits upon the birth of her first child, a monumental event in its own right given the abysmal fertility rates among the Fey. The future for the baby is uncertain despite a few vague prophecies, not in the least because human genomes tend to twist Fey genetics and do not guarantee that the parent's Court heritage will be passed on. Therefore Blackbird, a fire-based Fey, and Niall, one of the Untainted wraiths, could potentially throw a child from one of the Seven Courts or some bizarre combination between. Observers watch with not so baited breath to see what happens there, and enemies from the first book with old scores to settle are not above taking advantage of Blackbird's absolute lack of magic. For the first time in three centuries, she has to rely completely on her physical and mundane aptitudes to get by.

Of course, with the sealing off of the Untainted through a successful ritual that convulsed the heart of Sixty-One Nails' conflict, things should be peaceful. They are... for about six seconds, until Niall and ex-wife Katherine learn their daughter Alex is badly injured in a horrific accident at high school along with several other school mates. Only her friend survives, scarred by the traumatic experience, and in the grief Niall realizes he's signed away more than his daughter's chances at life to what he presumes is a national authority. The nature of the accident is horribly commonplace and entirely believable, but the insidious undertones of what happens pull right back to the uneasy bedmates of humanity and the Feyre.

The central conflict exemplifies how Shevdon can use a familiar trope to great ends. Rather than choking on stereotypes and leading the reader in the same direction as many other authors, he throws in unexpected twists and turns. You may foresee the destination, but unlikely *how* he gets Niall and Blackbird from A to B.

The story splits Blackbird and Niall up, giving him time to shine on his own while Blackbird gets a few chapters of her own outside of the first person perspective. Her own ingenuity and efforts to evade the returned Untainted, emissaries coming with the long absent leader of the exiled Seventh Court, are more of a background narrative to Niall's struggles. In a way this works nicely because the story gives the protagonist the limelight and really bookends the two great standards of his life: the human and the fae worlds, and where they collide in him (quite appropriately). I do wish we'd had a bit more time to see what Blackbird was up to.

My one quibble for the story falls to Alex's characterization. In no uncertain terms, she is a snotty, spoiled brat who ought to be slapped a few times. After a harrowing event, she is entitled to be a bit snarky but her treatment of Blackbird and the other Wardens set my teeth on edge. In other words, Shevdon nailed the portrayal of a self-interested, conceited girl who possesses very unstable powers and equally tempestuous temperament. It doesn't mean I like her or feel much sympathetic towards her, though, and he conjures up some pretty intense dislike for her behaviour. I wanted nothing more than for one of the Untainted to eat her, drag her off, or sacrifice her to the spirit of Father Christmas. She is over the top but I am a little bit afraid she will derail the future plots with her evident specialness. I'll trust Shevdon with this one.

Like the previous book, Bedlam takes a while to spin up to the action after an initial slap to the face. Shevdon fine-tunes his sense of pacing here to a keen pitch, giving no moment when you are permitted to catch your breath or think of putting the book down, grab your slippers and let the dog out, or wander into the kitchen in search of a snack. He has a real talent for keeping the reader engaged and engrossed, turning pages, even during points of relative "calm," like Niall's search of the archives and discussion with an Anglican minister about missing women. I commend him as one of the great authors in the field right now capable of keeping such a focused lens on the human experience and emotions within the context of greater events.

There are a few points where Bedlam strayed a bit wider of the mark than I would have liked, but intense and realistic characterisation and tidy cleaning up of stray ends while opening even wider doors are his strong suits. I definitely look forward to the next two books. ( )
  amaranthine | Sep 7, 2011 |
Very well done characters and plot. You get a vivid sense of the settings without having them overwhelm the story. Excellently written. The basic premise of the the first book Sixty-one Nails, and the second book The Road to Bedlam, are the relationship of full-blooded people of "fairie" or or Feyre as they're called in the book, and those of mixed blood (Feyre-human cross). This sounds as though the book would be following many previously written plots, but I found it to be very original. I was fascinated by the way ancient English history and folklore were woven into the story. ( )
  sissy3463 | Mar 23, 2011 |
Loved it ( )
  glitrbug | Dec 5, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mike Shevdonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Coulthart, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0857660616, Mass Market Paperback)

The sequel to Sixty-One Nails.


But Alex isn't dead. She's been snatched because she came into her magical power early. Her father, Niall Petersen, must use his own wayward magic to track her down and save her from the madness of Bedlam.

File under: Urban Fantasy [ Undying Madness / Insane Magic / Secret Realities / Stolen Children ]

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:27 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Learning to cope with the loss of a child is only the beginning of the challenges facing Niall Petersen. An old enemy has returned and Niall already knows it's not a social call. As the new Warder of the Seven Courts, he will be forced to choose between love and honor, duty and responsibility. These choices will lead him to discover the darkest secrets buried right at the core of the ancient realm he now calls home.--from back cover.… (more)

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Angry Robot

3 editions of this book were published by Angry Robot.

Editions: 0857660608, 0857660616, 0857660624

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