Science fiction and fantasy
by R. J. Anderson
This novel begins by seeming to be aimed at a younger audience than it ends up as, shading from middle grade to young adult as the main character ages. Bryony is a headstrong child surrounded by older faeries who tell her what to do all the time, and as such it's a somewhat conventional story of rebellious youth versus authority during the early chapters. The beginning is acceptable thanks to the unique faery society the author has created, but it didn't blow me away. It's not until mid-way in, when we learn more about Paul and his family and their problems, that the story becomes much more compelling. It changes from a childish adventure to a more mature study of depression, as well as a touching story of friendship. At the same time Bryony, now known as Knife, is learning more about a terrible event in their past known as the Sundering which left them in such a reduced state. The faeries are keen on keeping secrets, and are reluctant to talk about certain things. But Knife suspects foul play, and she won't rest until she learns the truth.
R. J. Anderson has a real knack for moments that turn on the waterworks. This is a story of love and sacrifice, and in parts it's extremely sweet. I also enjoyed the way faery society is so distinctive, so that even saying "thanks" is taboo, and the queen assigns everyone a role for the rest of their lives, and so on. The faeries are physically very distinct from humans, even apart from their small size and wings. So Knife is interesting because of its rich vision and detailed back story. Its characters reveal themselves to be more nuanced as the story progresses. But most of all it's the kind of heart-warming, honey-sweet tale that leaves you with a good feeling after reading it.
12th September 2013
If you like this, try:Castle Waiting: Volume 1 by Linda Medley
A fairytale castle opens its doors to refugees, misfits, and eccentrics. They all have stories to tell. A graphic novel.
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They snare unwary travellers and lead them off cliffs. Hunting down a beguiler is thought to be insane, so why does Rilka want to do it?
The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
Rowdy pictsies and young Tiffany Aching confront the Queen of the Fairies.
Review © Ros Jackson
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