Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Reading this book reminded me a little of my progression reading through J.R.R. Tolkein – The Hobbit’s simple characters give way to The Lord of the Rings darker tone and complex world, and The Silmarillion’s vast scope is tragic, and so detailed and interconnected that it was very hard to read. For me, that was the end of reading Tolkein! And of course I am not comparing the Fae Out of Water series to Tolkein, but moving from the romantic comedy of Cutie and the Beast through The Druid Next Door to Bad Boys Bard was also a journey with increasingly complex world building and darker, more tragic characters. There is nothing of comedy in this book, and the denouement is the fate not just of Faerie, but of all creation.
Gareth is the youngest of the Kendrick brothers, and he is the last true bard. Where his brothers have been raised to fight with body and sword, Gareth was trained to use the powerful magic of his voice to influence and change people’s behavior. Gareth’s training came at a much greater price than his brothers’ though – he was apprenticed to an amoral ghost, locked away from Faerie and subjected to the voices of the dead, and when he finished his apprenticeship he came back changed – aloof and unable to connect emotionally to anyone.
Niall was the one person who was able to get through Gareth’s armor, and awoke passion and happiness in him. He is human, and though Gareth always believed the races should not mix, he was swept away by his love and desire for Niall. When Niall was taken by the Unseelie – and killed – Gareth was broken, bitter, and his hatred for anything Unseelie was limitless. He removed himself completely from Faerie, cut most ties with his brothers, and never felt passion or romantic love for anyone again.
All is not as it seems though, and Niall is not dead. And not human. When he is released from hell to attend the Convergence between the Seelie and Unseelie realms, he finds he will have to face Gareth again. And though he still loves Gareth, coming clean about who he really is, not to mention all of the lies he told, and all of the suffering their affair caused, seems to be an insurmountable task.
I enjoyed the tragic parts of the story, as well as the way both Gareth and Niall were imperfect and had some serious flaws that they had to recognize and address before they could save the world. My problem with this book, however, was that the world building got so complex that it was incomplete. Celtic mythology isn’t exactly common knowledge, and in the previous books everything that was introduced was at least explained – I wondered if there originally was more exposition, that was edited out to keep the book at a certain length. If so, the editing could definitely have been better. Fortunately this didn’t detract from the story too much, but I had to drop at least one star for it.
Cover art by Lou Harper fits in with the rest of the series, and with this story.
ebook, 264 pages
Published September 18th 2017 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleBad Boy’s Bard
Series Fae Out of Water: