ARC Review: Seven Black Diamonds-Melissa Marr

SevenBlackDiamonds cGoodreads/Amazon/B&N

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This riveting fantasy marks Melissa Marr’s return to the world of faery courts that made her Wicked Lovely series an international phenomenon.

Lilywhite Abernathy is a criminal—she’s half human, half fae, and since the time before she was born, a war has been raging between humans and faeries. The Queen of Blood and Rage, ruler of the fae courts, wants to avenge the tragic death of her heir due to the actions of reckless humans.

Lily’s father has always shielded her, but when she’s sent to the prestigious St. Columba’s school, she’s delivered straight into the arms of a fae sleeper cell—the Black Diamonds. The Diamonds are planted in the human world as the sons and daughters of the most influential families and tasked with destroying it from within. Against her will, Lilywhite’s been chosen to join them…and even the romantic attention of the fae rock singer Creed Morrison isn’t enough to keep Lily from wanting to run back to the familiar world she knows.

Melissa Marr returns to faery in a dramatic story of the precarious space between two worlds and the people who must thrive there. The combination of ethereal fae powers, tumultuous romance, and a bloodthirsty faery queen will have longtime fans and new readers at the edge of their seats.

review3.5/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via Edelweiss and HarperCollins 

When I was approved for this book, I literally jumped up and down in total excitement. Melissa Marr has influenced my own writing in so many ways. Particularly, that dark, gritty side of humanity that can be found even in the most epically paranormal creatures. Wicked Lovely was a huge part of my teen years and I was eager to get back into the twisted fae underworld set right alongside humans. Seven Black Diamonds has elements of everything I love about Melissa Marr’s character building. Deeply layered, flawed, real, and makes you delve into the gray space between good and evil. There’s a lot going on: eco-terrorism, mobsters, murder, rock stars, mystery, and sleeper cells, among politics, romance, and a quest for revenge. Somewhere in the madness, that bewitching quality was lost. 

PROS:

  • Lilywhite (Lily) is fierce, independent, outspoken, a definite mobster’s daughter. She knows her value and will fight for her freedom. She understands that sometimes, bloodshed is necessary. Lily is confused over her identity. She’s sure she’s fae blood but can never be herself. If she were exposed as fae in the human world, she’d be arrested and killed. So Lily bottles it up and lives for the quiet moments when she can commune with nature and be free. 
  • Each of the Seven Diamonds are memorable and likable. Roan and Will have the least involvement; I would have liked to see more of their personalities and romance. Violet is a feisty, hotheaded woman with an appetite for violence. Her temper flares hot and cold, flipping like a switch that will keep you guessing. Alkamy is abrasive, rude, mean when she wants to be, and a sweetheart beneath the sarcastic exterior. She’s full of love and admiration when you get to know her. 
  • Diversity in abundance. Characters of different walks of life, various races and sexual preferences. 
  • The Queen of Blood and Rage is wickedly bloodthirsty and violent. She’s calculating, blunt, and steps ahead of everyone else. A mastermind at political intrigue. I loved her. The fear that she instills in everyone she meets is all consuming. 
  • I adored Lily’s mobster side. Her joy at pretty weaponry and being able to use them with skill. Her Abernathy commandments. The way she is with her father. The intricate workings of the crime world. 
  • The world building is glorious. Dark, wicked, gritty. The eco-terrorism, the revenge, the killing of the innocents. The war waging between humans and fae is one of secrecy, “accidents”, and environmental mishaps. The Seelie and Unseelie have united and now, the Hidden Court has another mission, one of bitter revenge against humanity that is a threat to the nature fae thrive in. 
  • Eilidh and Torquil <3. I’d love a story about them.

CONS:

  • Seven Black Diamonds is told from several POVs. At first, it’s tricky to follow. There’s a bunch of information packed into small sections-information that is crucial to the story arc and character building. It’s hard to keep track but eventually, a familiar rhythm and pattern is established. 
  • Some sections felt random and lacked follow through. The sleeper cells (the 7 Black Diamonds) were destined for a mission that isn’t mentioned. The whole time, they’re waiting for Lilywhite’s arrival and when it happens, it becomes this convoluted melee of romance and marriage and politics. The Seelie princes and their involvement was way out of left field. They’re barely present and suddenly they’re crucial?
  • Zephyr was my least liked character. He mindlessly follows the cause of The Queen of Blood and Rage. He’s so devoted that he doesn’t question when he should and believes everything she says. He sacrifices everything, his heart, and his freedom for this random woman because she “created” him. I couldn’t get behind that. He’s awkward and pushy, the attraction that should have been there wasn’t.
  • Lily’s mobster “betrothed” and so-called best friend Erik falls out of the picture fast. More development there might have helped solidify the tearing between worlds for Lily. 
  • Creed. Musician. Sexy. Flirty. Intensely besotted by Lily. What’s not to like? You’d think? Apart from the very obvious chemistry boiling between the two and a few steamy kisses, there’s not much there. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Happy reading, 

Jordan

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Scavenger Hunt & Giveaway: Seven Black Diamonds-Melissa Marr

Seven Black DiamondsSevenBlackDiamonds cGoodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks

Release Date: March 1, 2016

Publisher: HarperCollins

syn

This riveting fantasy marks Melissa Marr’s return to the world of faery courts that made her Wicked Lovely series an international phenomenon.

Lilywhite Abernathy is a criminal—she’s half human, half fae, and since the time before she was born, a war has been raging between humans and faeries. The Queen of Blood and Rage, ruler of the fae courts, wants to avenge the tragic death of her heir due to the actions of reckless humans.

Lily’s father has always shielded her, but when she’s sent to the prestigious St. Columba’s school, she’s delivered straight into the arms of a fae sleeper cell—the Black Diamonds. The Diamonds are planted in the human world as the sons and daughters of the most influential families and tasked with destroying it from within. Against her will, Lilywhite’s been chosen to join them…and even the romantic attention of the fae rock singer Creed Morrison isn’t enough to keep Lily from wanting to run back to the familiar world she knows.

Melissa Marr returns to faery in a dramatic story of the precarious space between two worlds and the people who must thrive there. The combination of ethereal fae powers, tumultuous romance, and a bloodthirsty faery queen will have longtime fans and new readers at the edge of their seats.

SCAVENGER HUNT

***The secret word can be found in RED

Chapter 2: LILY

                 “You need to stop hiding and go downstairs.” Shayla stood in the doorway to Lily’s bedroom. Her long greying hair fell neatly over her shoulders instead of being bound into some kind of twist or held captive under one of her innumerable scarves. An elegant dress, no doubt by a runway designer, made her look like the lady of the house rather than Lily’s caretaker, assistant, governess, whatever-her-title-was-now.

“I know. I just don’t want to. Daidí knows I don’t like parties.”

Shayla’s entire attitude switched from sweet to stern. “You’re being honored. Act like it.”

Lily couldn’t meet Shayla’s eyes.

“You will put a smile on that pretty little face of yours and march yourself down there,” Shayla continued. “You’ll go thank your father for the party, and you’ll smile at the guests, and make a point to say hello to that Morris boy that’s going to sing.”

Despite herself, Lily smiled. Creed Morrison was in every tabloid, toured worldwide, and was even in a movie. As if being a rock star wasn’t enough, he had to add acting. He had been her fantasy since she’d seen her first photo of him—and now he was here in her home.

“Morrison,” she said. “His name is Creed Morrison, Shayla.”

Shayla waved her hand dismissively. “Whatever. Creed. Morris. Unless he is in one of those musicals your father gets me tickets to see, I don’t care.” She came over to stand in front of Lily and fussed with her hair, pulling at the curls, unpinning and re-pinning it in several places as she spoke. “What matters, Lilywhite, is that Nicolas brought the boy here to sing for you. So go be charming.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Lily leaned in and kissed Shayla’s cheek before heading toward the door. Once she was sure she was out of reach, she teased, “Maybe you ought to come down too and check on Daidí. Make sure he’s not under siege from one of the fripperies.”

“Your father can handle himself just fine with those girls,” Shayla said.

“Come on. For me?”

“Hmph.” Shayla didn’t bother arguing further. She went on in front of Lily, effectively buying her a few minutes of peace.

Shayla was the closest thing to a mother that Lily had. Shayla and Daidí both swore that there was nothing romantic between them, but Lily kept hoping. Her mother had been gone for twelve years, and Shayla had filled her vacant place. They certainly functioned like a family. Shayla raised Lily when Daidí was off on business trips, and she looked after both of them when he was home.

Slowly, Lily walked through the hall, hating that she had to wear shoes, even though the tiny sandals were nothing more than a few strips of leather. She’d learned to tolerate shoes, but heels still made her feel wrong. Feet were meant to touch the earth, the floor, the sea. They weren’t to be locked away in prisons of leather or fabric. Sandals were the closest to normal that Lily had found, and tonight—surrounded by people—she needed the comfort of nearly bare feet.

At the top of the great staircase, just out of sight, Lily paused to smooth down the skirt of the dress she’d been given to wear. It wasn’t as fancy as Shayla would like, but the pale green dress made especially for her was as flattering as any dress could be. An asymmetrical neckline and fitted bodice topped a skirt made up of layers of some sort of delicate material. Tiny stones sewn into the layers caught the light and shimmered as she moved. Lily didn’t have the heart to ask if they were real gems or not. It was easier to avoid an argument if she didn’t know. She’d already lost the fights about her bracelets. Obscenely expensive diamonds and emeralds dangled from her wrists and ears.

The short blade that Lily had sheathed in a hand-sewn leather holster under her ephemeral dress was real too, though. Its weight made her feel secure despite the glittering facade. Lilywhite’s blade was a double-edged dagger that had been handcrafted for her. She wasn’t eager to use it, preferring the tidiness of her longer blades, but she could never be truly unarmed.

For all of her father’s protections, he’d also taught her that she was ultimately responsible for her own safety. The party was at her home, and the guests had all entered through a metal detector and been patted down, but she was the daughter of the head of one of the most successful criminal organizations in the world. That meant that, even here, she was armed.

Lily rounded the corner and started down the stairs. Her father looked up at her, and the pride in his face made her feel guilty for delaying. He smiled at her, and she knew that she’d been wrong to stall. Mingling at the over-the-top birthday party that Daidí insisted on this year was a little bit beyond terrifying, but he wanted to celebrate her birthday, so celebrate they would. These events layered civility and elegance onto their often violent world, and Lily knew well that the layer of softness was important—not just for how others saw the underworld but for how the demimonde saw itself.

As she walked down the stairs, she could hear soft music in the ballroom. Soon, Creed Morrison would sing, but right now, a chamber orchestra played classical music that wove around the spaces between conversations. Servers circulated with finger foods and drinks.   Usually, Lily stayed at her father’s side when she had to attend these sorts of things. Tonight, though, Daidí insisted that she talk to people her own age—other than just her friend Erik.

authMelissaWebsite | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Tumblr

Melissa Marr is the author of the bestselling Wicked Lovely series as well as the adult fantasy novels Graveminder and The Arrivals. When not writing, editing, or traveling, Melissa is buried under a plethora of books, dogs, and children in Virginia or online at www.melissa-marr.com.

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Magical reading, 

Jordan