And Blue Skies from Pain – Stina Leicht

Astounding and near-perfect.

Stars: Four and a half of five.

Review format: Comment plus links.
Summary:  It’s November of 1977: The punk rock movement is a year old and the brutal thirty-year war referred to as “The Troubles” is escalating.
According to Irish tradition, the month of November is a time for remembrance of the dead. Liam Kelly, in particular, wishes it were otherwise. Born a Catholic in Londonderry/Derry, Northern Ireland, Liam, a former wheelman for the Provisional IRA, is only half mortal. His father is Bran, a púca—a shape-shifting ghostlike creature—and a member of the ancient Fíanna.
Liam must dodge both the Royal Ulster Constabulary, who want him for the car bombing that killed Constable Haddock, and the Provisional IRA, who want him for the deaths of Éamon Walsh and several others found ripped apart in a burned down farmhouse in Armagh. Fortunately for Liam, both the Ulster Constabulary and the Provisional IRA think he’s dead.
On the other hand, the Militis Dei—a group of Roman Catholic priest-assassins, whose sole purpose is to dispose of fallen angels and demons found living on this earth—is very aware that Liam is alive, and very aware of his preternatural parentage. With the help of his unlikely ally Father Murray—a Militis Dei operative who has known Liam since childhood—he must convince the Church that he and his fey brethren aren’t demonic in origin, and aren’t allied with The Fallen.
The clash between The Fallen and The Fey intensifies against the backdrop of the Irish/English conflicts in And Blue Skies from Pain, Stina Leicht’s follow up to her critically acclaimed debut, Of Blood and Honey.  (from the publisher’s website)
Provenance: Baen Online Store… 
Date Read: June 2012 

I recently purchased and read two books by Stina Leicht, and they are awesome. The first book is Of Blood and Honey and its sequel is And Blue Skies from Pain. These books follow a young man in early-seventies Northern Ireland whose life is complicated by:

  • poverty
  • imprisonment
  • only able to get a job with IRA fronted cab company
  • tendency to shape-shift in stressful situations
  • political girlfriend
  • near-illiteracy
  • absent father – was he Protestant? Black? Indian? Not… English?! No, just Fae.

These two books are the best books 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 excellence.

For me, these two books both evoke many of the same feelings that Jo Walton’s wonderful Among Others did. Since she just brought home a Nebula award for her novel, this is a very positive comparison.

Links and others’ reviews

Other related good stuff and reviews  (added by me, not generated)

  • Start with free chapters from the first book via the publisher: Of Blood and Honey …and then you can buy it. I did. Well worth the $6 to own this book.
  • Little Red Reviewer posted an eloquent review…  “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.”
  • Free sample chapters and buy this book at Baen.
  • Author’s website
  • Glowing review of Of Blood and Honey – and I agree with all of these points. I do like urban fantasy, but this does truly break the UF stereotype even though it fits the literal definition perfectly… “‘Urban Fantasy’ Is that a dirty phrase to your ears? Do you think of sexy vampires? Sassy heroines? Sex, tramp stamps and one-liners? “Oh, I don’t like that stuff,” you say. “Stina Leicht’s Of Blood and Honey is different…””
  • My-name-is-not-Val read the first book with no idea what to expect, and came out really liking it. Me too.

—.~.~.~.—

Want me to link to your review too? Let me know in a comment, and I can add the link here.

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  1. #1 by Redhead on June 10, 2012 - 9:51 pm

    Thanks for all the link love!

    It’s gratifying to see everyone else enjoying these too. Leicht takes some tropes that have been done to death – historical fantasy, half-fey children, the Church versus something much older, and she breathes new life into everything. That woman is seriously amazing.

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