Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr is the combination of ethereal fae powers, tumultuous romance, and a bloodthirsty faery queen that will have longtime fans and new readers alike at the edge of their seats. Melissa Marr’s newest series explores the precarious space between two worlds—and the people who must thrive there.
Lilywhite Abernathy is a criminal—she’s half human, half fae, and since the time before she was born her very blood has been illegal. A war has been raging between humans and faeries and 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 from the truth, 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.
Normally I’m not a fan of the mortal (normal) and fantasy (in this case, fae) worlds melding in fantasy – High Fantasy is more my thing. However, the plot of Seven Black Diamonds basically screamed Mortal Instruments at me – girl, raised in the normal, human world, suddenly thrust into a Institute filled to the brim with less-than-human peers, and a whole family history she never knew about? Sounds mighty familiar if you ask me… But I was a pretty bug fan of the Mortal Instruments, once upon a time, so I thought, why not?
Starting with the characters – the Seven Black Diamonds is comprised of seven demi-fae, Lilywhite included. The other members are Creed, Violet, Zephyr, Alkamy, Will and Roan. Each have embodied the human roles thrust upon them, in order to survive in an unfriendly world, despite their fae abilities, and evidently supernatural looks (aka like most supernatural beings in YA Fantasy these days, they’re drop-dead gorgeous; but we’ll get there in a moment). Marr really took the time to put the effort into developing the members of the Black Diamonds into individuals- with personalities, problems, and feelings. Will and Roan were as close as it came to feeling like any members of the Black Diamonds were side characters, but even they had significant detail put into their characters and their relationship – they didn’t feel ignored. Lilywhite, Creed and Zephyr were obviously more well-developed, being the primary members of the Black Diamonds (for this tale at least). Lily is a tough, cut-throat good-girl who is full of contradictions – but despite this, she is motivated and strong in her convictions. And the Black Diamonds as a team are quite a formidable team, and I quite like the dynamic Marr has created among them, including the romantic relationships.
“Black Diamonds Commandment #1,” Creed whispered. “We’re in this together.” – Creed Morrison, Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr
Speaking of romantic relationships – while Creed and Lilywhite’s romance is obviously central to the plot, it was Zephyr and Alkamy’s star-crossed lovers scenario that really caught my heart. With the Unseelie Queen supposedly able to marry the demi-fae off to whomever she pleases, they’re avoided a relationship to avoid eventual heartbreak, despite their obvious chemistry with one another. Their friendship bordering on more relationship is quite interesting to read, and I think that Marr did a really good job crafting their relationship, creating a solid balance for Creed and Lilywhite’s fiery attraction, and Will and Roan’s quiet relationship.
The one point that really threw me off a bit was the whole secrecy surrounding Lilywhite’s parentage. Initially, I thought her seclusion from the Fae world was a result of general ignorance to her existence (on the Fae’s behalf), but then as the story progressed, it became evident that several powerful Fae were well aware of her existence and her parentage, which brings me to this question: why was she allowed to pursue a normal, human life for so long? The Unseelie Queen doesn’t seem like a kind soul – in fact, allowing Lilywhite’s father to shelter her from the larger Fae world for so long seems to go directly against her motives. So generally speaking, I’m largely confused about that, and that discrepancy really bothered me throughout the book.
Overall, Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr was better than expected, but it didn’t quite capture my love. In general, plot discrepancies and plot holes really detracted from the overall story, making it difficult to love the book. I did enjoy the relationships and dynamics between the Seven Black Diamonds – in fact, their relationships made and saved this book from being a complete disaster! And while Seven Black Diamonds hardly qualifies as my favourite read of the year, it certainly managed to impress, based on some good writing, solid character development and a kick-ass villain (3/5).