the Little Red Reviewer

And Blue Skies from Pain, by Stina Leicht

Posted on: June 10, 2012

And Blue Skies from Pain (The Fey and The Fallen, book 2), by Stina Leicht

published in March 2012 from Night Shade Books

Where I got it: the library

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And Blue Skies from Pain is the sequel to Of Blood and Honey (reviewed here), and thus this review will involve some spoilers of the first book.  You’ve been warned.

The super simple fast review is if you like your urban fantasy intelligent, powerful, and heart wrenchingly beautiful, this is the series for you. I lost sleep over this book. I was late to work due to sitting in my car, reading just a few more pages. If you are not reading Stina Leicht, you are missing out on some of the best urban fantasy being written today.

Northern Ireland, 1977, and for once Liam Kelly has something more pressing to worry about than The Troubles. He’ll do anything to avoid returning to the prisons, and he isn’t interested in working for any side again. He’s seen enough pain and enough death. With the help of Father Murray, Liam has learned to separate the shape-changing part of him, known as The Hound, and crush that portion of himself into the back of his mind. But the more he separates himself from who and what he truly is, the more dangerous he becomes to himself and others. At least his Fey father, Bran, is finally speaking to him.  But the Fey have problems of their own, and Bran may not be able to drop everything every time his son calls to him.

As part of a truce agreement between The Church and the Fey, Liam is offered up to the inquisitors so the Church can determine what exactly he is. The inquisitors were the most gut wrenching, frightening part for me. While the Hound in the back of his mind is telling him to get out, the voice in my head is screaming RUN. This is beyond Danger Will Robinson. My emotional reaction was pure animal, pure visceral, pure and utter lizard brain fear, telling me to run until I ran out of earth to run on.  Other readers certainly may not experience it quite as ripely as I did, but still, this is some successfully scary and worrysome shit.

(In a twisted way, I almost feel bad for the Church. In their belief that the world is so neatly divided into good and bad / saved and fallen, they’ve painted themselves into a corner. If they allow a smidgen of doubt to enter their deliberations, they’ll have to face the fact that maybe, just maybe, they murdered hundreds of thousands of innocents.  And what religious group could ever, ever bring themselves to admit to that? It’s easier to go with the flow, to call out all unknowns as fallen, to allow that unpainted corner to become perilously tiny, and hope that it will be a problem for a future generation.

but I said almost. And perhaps Leicht’s inquisitorial priests are stereotypes. Who knows, perhaps her Fey are stereotypes too. and yet that voice inside my head is still screaming RUN)

If the Church decides he’s not quite human, they won’t have any reason to protect him, but if Father Murray can convince the Church that the Fey are not Fallen, then Liam could be their most powerful weapon against the Fallen.

To make matters even worse, Liam is haunted by the shades of those whose deaths he caused. Oran. his wife. Haddock.  Torn between allowing the Hound to rule his life and allowing the shades of the dead to haunt him, Liam needs to come to term with what’s happening to him, and he needs to do it fast. So far he’s found no one he can talk to about these things, because if he talks about the ghosts, that means he’ll have to talk about what happened to him in Long Kesh prison.

Leicht gives us a bigger glimpse in the Fey world, and we get some insights into their problems and lifestyles, and that what they are dealing with is just as important as what’s happening on Earth. This trouble with the Fallen is much bigger than a Fey turf war, much bigger than Church arguments, much bigger than the violence of The Troubles of Northern Ireland in 1977. If this was a different book I’d be tempted to tell the main characters that they are marching in the wrong direction.

If you enjoyed Of Blood and Honey, you will simply love And Blue Skies from Pain. The second book has a similar feel to the first, but in my opinion it’s even deeper, emotionally speaking. You can’t help but feel for Liam. He’s been imprisoned. Sexually traumatized. Had everything taken from him. The only way he can protect those he cares about is by pushing them away. He’s becoming something he doesn’t understand. He’s being left out in the cold by the religion he was raised in. He lashes out in anger and frustration, and is punished for doing so. Liam is not an angry man. He is in mourning, and suffering from a killer case of post traumatic stress disorder. Makes me want to punch some of these jackasses that get all pissy that he won’t just sit there and be poked and prodded by them.

Where of Blood and Honey functioned decently as a stand alone with an ending, And Blue Skies from Pain opens the story up into a much wider reaching over arching story line. In the first book, everything was from Liam’s point of view, whereas in And Blue Skies from Pain  we get a lot more from Father Murray’s point of view, even some flashbacks from his earlier secret missions within the Church. There’s certainly some closure at the end, but there are more questions asked than answered. I’m not entirely sure where this story is going, and you know what? that’s a good thing.

I said it in my review of Of Blood and Honey and I’ll repeat it here: Leicht has some major Robin Hobb character deconstruction going on, and it’s like watching a super nova trainwreck. I feel terrible for Liam, I just want the poor guy to have some damn peace, he deserves it. But the more he suffers, the deeper and more intense of a story I get to enjoy. arrghh, that sounded really demented, didn’t it? Sorry about that.

If you like your urban fantasy on the heavy hitting side, Stina Leicht’s The Fey and The Fallen series is for you.

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13 Responses to "And Blue Skies from Pain, by Stina Leicht"

I keep almost buying this book because I’m so intrigued by the Pink Floyd reference in the title. Based on your review it looks wonderful… :D

and I didn’t even mention all the great punk music references. you’re gonna love these books!

Oooh, that makes it even better!

hey–if you don’t mind, contact me at vanderworld@hotmail.com when you’ve got a chance.

Well, this is some serendipity! I also read these two books this month, and I concur with Little Red: they are fabulous. They almost defy classification… because, yes, there is clear urban fantasy underway, BUT the Northern Ireland setting so vividly takes center stage that a minor detail of shape-shifting and fey parentage is… mundane. That’s not quite the word I am looking for, but overall it works so well.

I strongly, strongly recommend these two books. Definitely read them both. BTW, you can get them DRM-free from Baen.com, and they are worthy additions to a digital library.

one more reason to love Baen! DRM free stuff, and they are reprinting a whole bunch of vintage stuff that’s been out of print for 40+ years.

[...] I’ve read in quite a while. Makes it difficult to find a next book worth reading. Go read Red’s review of these books for more persuasive details of their [...]

Sounds interesting, I’ll have to add it to my list.

I am honored to nominate you for the One Lovely Blog Award! Please pick-up your award at http://www.grandmothermusings.com . Congratulations!! :)

Nice, have to find this one. Love that Charles de Lint, my favorite author, recommends it.

I’d be lying if I said that didn’t also get my attention.

“If you are not reading Stina Leicht, you are missing out on some of the best urban fantasy being written today.”

That line alone hooked me (and no worries, I didn’t read on). I have been very impressed with both cover images of Leicht’s books and the praise I have heard has come from the kind of quarters, yourself included (I recall your review of the first novel), that make me think this would be a very good series for me to get into. Thanks, I’ll be picking it up.

I think this will be right up your alley, let me know when you get it! :D

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About this redhead, etc.

Redhead is a snarky, non-politically correct 30-something who reviews mostly science fiction and fantasy and talks about all sorts of other fun scifi and fantasy geekery. She once wrote a haiku that included the word triskaidekaphobia.

This blog contains adult language and strong opinions. The best way to contact her outside of this blog is twitter, where she is @redhead5318 .

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