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Tuesday, May 2, 2023

By A Silver Thread by Rachel Aaron (reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)


Official Rachel Aaron Website
Order “By A Silver Thread” over HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of The Last Stand Of Mary Good Crow 
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Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Last Dragon Standing"
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Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of “Night Shift Dragons”                                
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "The Spirit Thief
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of “The Spirit Rebellion” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of “The Spirit Eater” & “Spirit’s Oath” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of “The Spirit War” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Spirit's End"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Fortune's Pawn"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Honor's Knight"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Heaven's Queen"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's joint interview with Rachel Aaron & Travis Bach
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Interview with Rachel Aaron
Read Eli Monpress series completion interview with Rachel Aaron
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Interview with Rachel Bach
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Heartstrikers interview with Rachel Aaron
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Second Heartstrikers interview with Rachel Aaron
Read "Why A Nice Dragon" by Rachel Aaron (Guest post)
AUTHOR INFORMATION: Rachel Aaron lives in Colorado with her family. She has graduated from University of Georgia with a B.A. in English Literature. She has been an avid reader since her childhood and now has an ever-growing collection to show for it. She loves gaming, Manga comics & reality TV police shows. She also posts regularly on her blog about publishing, books and several other intriguing things.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: In the world’s most magical metropolis where spirits run noodle shops and cash-strapped dragons stage photo-ops for tourists, people still think fairies are nothing but stories, and that’s exactly how the fairies like it. It’s a lot easier to feast on humanity’s dreams when no one believes you exist. But while this arrangement works splendidly for most fair folk, Lola isn’t one of the lucky ones.

She’s a changeling, a fairy monster made just human enough to dupe unsuspecting parents while fairies steal their real child. The magic that sustains her was never meant to last past the initial theft, leaving Lola without a future. But thanks to Victor Conrath, a very powerful--and very illegal--blood mage, she was given the means to cheat death.

For a price.

Now the only changeling ever to make it to adulthood, Lola has served the blood mage faithfully, if reluctantly, for twenty years. Her unique ability to slip through wards and change her shape to look like anyone has helped make Victor a legend in the DFZ’s illegal-magic underground. It’s not a great life, but at least the work is stable… until her master vanishes without a trace.

With only a handful left of the pills that keep her human, Lola must find Victor before she turns back into the fairy monster she was always meant to be. But with a whole SWAT team of federal paladins hunting her as a blood-mage accomplice, an Urban Legend on a silent black motorcycle who won’t leave her alone, and a mysterious fairy king with the power to make the entire city dream, Lola’s chances of getting out of this alive are as slender as a silver thread. 
FORMAT/INFO: By A Silver Thread is 392pages long divided over seventeen chapters and an prologue. Narration is in the third person via Lola. This is the first volume of the DFZ Changeling trilogy.
May 2, 2023 marks the e-book & paperback publication of By A Silver Thread  and it is self-published by the author. Cover Art is by Luisa Prei├čler.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Rachel Aaron’s books are like a soothing balm to my soul, they are full of fun scenarios, charismatic characters, incredible magic systems and plots which are ingenious to say the least. Since Rachel first introduced us to the DFZ world nearly nine years ago, I along with a ton of other readers were hooked on to the crazy, multi-genre story. Plus dragons just make everything epic and that was indeed the case here as well.

Since the completion of the Heartstrikers saga, Rachel had written a sequel trilogy that was more grounded but fun nonetheless. But this time around Rachel while taking another trip back, is going a little more in-depth into the lore of the world. So begins By A Silver Thread, the first book in the DFZ Changeling trilogy and we are yet again brought in to the world of the DFZ to explore another angle and a different type of magic. This book is set nearly five years after the events of The D.F.Z. trilogy and immediately in the beginning; the readers are introduced to Lola, a faery changeling that was exchanged with a human child.

By A Silver Thread introduces a DFZ world wherein human magic is now on the upswing thanks to the events of the Heartstrikers saga & DFZ trilogy. This book is set twenty five years after the events of Last Dragon Standing & five years after Night Shift Dragons, Lola is a changeling with some really cool powers but in thrall to an evil blood mage named Victor Conrath. He keeps her on a short leash with his blood that allows her to maintain her human form as otherwise she will revert to being a literal monster (a state which she abhors). She is also linked by a magical silver thread, which encircles her left wrist and is magically connected to the human girl whom she replaced (whom she calls and believes to be her real sister).

The main plot starts with the abrupt disappearance of her blood mage master and her frantic search for him as she has only a few pills remaining to keep herself human. Lola is forced to figure who truly is behind her master’s disappearance while desperately trying to keep herself from dissipating without the support of his Blood Magic. By A Silver Thread does something masterful with its subject matter as it’s about Lola’s will to survive and not become what she absolutely is terrified of. However, the main genius of the story lies within the fact that it introduces Faeries and Fae magic to the world of the DFZ. It also is done in such an elegant manner that it does not break any magical rules and the history that has been set up by the preceding eight titles that have been released so far. This was truly amazing from a reader’s perspective and a tip of the hat to the author for keeping her world mythos precise.

The main gist of the story is all about mysteries. Who or what is Lola exactly, who has kidnapped or killed her master? What will happen to her when she runs out of her pills? Who are the Fae and what is their eventual aim? All of this and more is gloriously revealed in this new trilogy opener and once again we are charmingly brought back in to the world of DFZ. Lola as a main character is such a fascinating one and she’s probably the first non-human protagonist  that Rachel Aaron has focused upon (Yes I’m aware she has a novel set in space under her Rachel Bach pseudonym and technically Devi is a human from a different planet). But what sets Lola apart is that she’s a magical thing who isn’t supposed to exist. She however does and adopts a human form in honour of her lost sister. She’s empathetic and strong under a lot of duress. She has been psychologically abused by her master and yet he has been unable to strip her of kindness and humanity. This was such a refreshing thing to read and while Rachel has written optimistic characters before. Lola here seems to be a special case based on all that she has endured.

A plus about this book was the villain and I have to hand it to the author. She has created a very detestable character, possibly the worst one she has written so far amidst the 24 titles she has released. That’s something special as usually Rachel Aaron almost always makes her villains not entirely evil to a hilt. But here we finally get a proper, horrid person whom everyone can rightfully hate.

Another cool aspect of the story was the rapid plot pace and the tension that was strewn throughout. The author did a cool reverse countdown with the chapters about the remaining pills that Lola had. I really liked it as it reminded me a lot of Jeffrey Deaver’s thrillers wherein there’s a similar countdown that ratchets up the plot tension. Lastly the ending is a proper emotional one. I distinctly connected with Lola’s struggles and I wish for her to succeed. However the stakes are deeply against her. I can’t wait to see in the sequels what happens and how it all unfolds. There are also some cute nods and messages about the previous stories’ characters and they are there for the fans to enjoy.

CONCLUSION: By A Silver Thread is a superb return to the world of the DFZ. This is a heroic story that is in parts heartwarming, in parts mysterious and just a fantastic read all the way. I know at this point, it’s hard for me to keep coming up with superlatives for Rachel Aaron’s books but trust me, this is the start of a special story. Grab a copy now and join me in finding out why Lola deserves all of your attention and love.



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