Science fiction and fantasy
Some Kind Of Fairy Tale
by Graham Joyce
The story is told partly in flashbacks, as Tara relates her story to her family, and later to a very eccentric old psychiatrist. There's considerable humour in the characters' everyday lives, particularly the antics of young Jack, Peter's son. Jack is furtively trying to cover up a recent misdemeanour, although his attempts at subterfuge have a tendency to go wrong. This kind of minor drama provides a counterpoint to the darker aspects of the story, because the fairies of Tara's experience aren't just about bluebell woods and magical journeys to another place, although there is that aspect. They're also dangerous and jealous. So she's dealing with the fear that no-one will believe her, and the suspicion that she is, in fact, mad. And on top of that she has to contend with the disorientation of twenty years of missing history. And then, to cap it off, she's afraid that she and her loved ones are in danger because of what she has brought back with her.
However, this sense of menace isn't even the novel's main attraction. I found the voices very well realised, whether it was Richie's profane ramblings or the elderly Mrs Larwood with her ginger cake obsession. Details of Tara's dress and behaviour, and even the things she drinks, struck a very nostalgic chord for a time in the mid-nineties. She's stuck in a timewarp, and in many ways this is the most poignant aspect of the novel, the idea that you can never go back to where you were or who you once were. The fairy mystery is more of a launching point for an exploration of this theme, and although there's more realism than magic in Some Kind Of Fairy Tale I found it absolutely captivating.
5th November 2013
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Review © Ros Jackson
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