BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Powerful feyre are upset about the conclusion of Strangeness and Charm: Courts of the Feyre #3, and seek to kill everyone involved in support of a court made up of human-feyre crossbreeds. If they succeed, Earth will become a land consumed by darkness and the monsters who wield the void for evil.
PROS: Fascinating magic; powerful and scheming villains; engaging and surprising mystery; epic conflict; dramatic and sympathetic conclusion to character arcs.
CONS: A little slow to build interest; the final battle is frightening and surprising, but not the best ending of the series.
BOTTOM LINE: The Eighth Court takes a little time to build speed, but once it does the thrill ride to the finish is the puzzle solving, magical war that fans of this London Fantasy have come to love. You will get off this memorable ride more endeared to the heroes than ever before, and sad to see them go.
(This review contains spoilers if you have not read the first three books. This series is highly recommended. Start with Book 1, Sixty-One Nails: Courts of the Feyre. It made me a fan of Urban Fantasy.)
The Eighth Court starts out with a murder and takes the reader on the case to stop unknown bad guys from disrupting the setting up of the Eighth Court. The body count rises as the villains’ plot is much worse than stopping the formation of the crossbreed court. Niall’s fear of losing his loved ones in the battle to keep Earth free from the power of the void will push him into his highest risk yet.
This high stakes conclusion to the series makes The Eighth Court well worth picking up. The book starts off strongly with a murder, though some of the details used to set up the mystery dragged the first quarter of the story down a bit. Once Niall’s old nemesis pulls a nasty trick, however, the pacing flies right through to the end. There is a midpoint battle that used the author’s trademark skill, blending magic and action to unravel the mystery enough to set the odds well in the favor of the bad guys. The story builds tension in life-or-death stakes for Niall and friends of the Eighth Court, and climaxes with a strong and surprising emotional resonance.
Readers will leave the series feeling satisfied because there is an emotional connection to each of the characters, who are depicted fighting at the height of their vulnerability. Niall’s daughter, Alex, may have been hard to like at times in previous books, but really grew up into a loveable adult by the end. Throughout this book, Niall struggles to harness the dark power within his void ability. The wraithkin enemies share the same power and force him to use his if he will have any chance of defeating them. The fear behind what will happen when he allows his power to be used at full force creates top-notch tension, and the surprise ending is as strong a gut check as any revelation in the series. There may be some who think the ending of the previous book was more visually amazing, but the climax at the end of The Eighth Court was more about hitting the main characters where they’re weakest and making the reader hold his breath to find out if any survive.
Mike Shevdon’s The Courts of the Feyre series will be fondly remembered as the books that made me a fan of Urban Fantasy. They are still my favorite Urban Fantasy to-date because of how high he hits on character, mystery and displaying magic within everyday, yet historic London. His imagination for the possibility of shape-shifting feyre behind the next corner and their plot to unleash darkness on the city has opened up a new type of love for his blend of genre fiction. (See also: My interview with Mike, a non-spoiler discussion of his writing and thoughts on creating an Urban Fantasy series set in the U.K.)