Branwyn is human. A nice, normal human – which isn’t a great thing to be when magical shenanigans, monsters, fae and wizards are running around. There can be no greater evidence of this than her best friend, Penny, slowly dying in a hospital bed. A fate that could have been Branwyn’s if Marley hadn’t worked so hard to keep her out of the supernatural drama that had consumed her life.
Branwyn doesn’t want to be protected, she doesn’t want to be a tool, a victim or something to be sheltered and she certainly doesn’t want to sit and watch her best friend die. Against all advice and all established knowledge, she reaches out to Tarn, a fae noble, in his imprisonment in the fae world. He’s definitely using her for his own devices but he is the only one who offers even flimsy hope of saving Penny’s life – and, perhaps, of Branwyn learning some human skills that will allow her to protect herself in the magical world she has been plunged into.
When I started reading this book I was very worried I would hate Branwyn because in many ways she does exactly what I hate human characters in Urban Fantasy to do. She seeks out danger, she gets in way over her head, she doesn’t listen to warnings, she takes massive risks and she doesn’t know nearly enough to be safe. That is usually a recipe for me to be cursing a character and the magical luck that allows her to somehow exist and breathe through.
But Branwyn works. She works because she is extremely, painfully, aware of how vulnerable she is in fact the core of everything she does is because she is so vulnerable – she’s trying to reduce that vulnerability. She’s an aware human in the supernatural world – she’s inherently vulnerable. She’s tired of having to rely on the (sometimes dubious) protection of others and she can’t bring herself to pretend she isn’t aware of the supernatural around her. She needs to take these risks or spend the rest of her life being at risk or dependent on other people which is most definitely not her nor something she could endure.
It works, it fits her personality – she’s irrepressible, irreverent, fun loving, passionate and defiant – not in a constantly angry kind of way, but in her insistence that she will walk her own path and do her own thing and isn’t going to accept what others lay down as “the way things are.” This also makes her very determined and completely unwilling to accept the inevitable fatalism about Penny’s slow death, nor accept that her vulnerability or lesser status is just something she has to put up with. She’s also, unlike Marley, not willing to take the word of Senyaza for anything –neither assuming they know everything or assuming that they have her best interests in mind (especially since they’re more than a little condescending when it comes to humans anyway)
This makes her an excellent, caring, challenging character – if I had any criticism at al, it’s that her “irreverence” often comes across as brash or even outright rude with little justification for it – and seems more like showing off bravado than appropriateness of the situation. But then, when the only power you have in a situation is confidence and bluff – and making it abundantly clear to all concerned that you will NOT be playing by their rules then you have to spin it well.