Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Review: Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner

Found via: BBYA 2010 nominations

I realized after reading this book that I might have to revise my "I don't like fantasy" stance, because I keep finding fantasy books that I actually do enjoy! I think it's just classic High Fantasy that I don't like - sword and sorcery stories where women are usually reduced to being damsels in distress.

Bones of Faerie definitely isn't that sort of story - in fact, I think it could make a great introduction to fantasy for younger teens who like sci fi but avoid fantasy, because this is essentially a post-apocalyptic fantasy novel.

Liza lives in a world still struggling in the aftermath of the faerie war that ended 20 years ago. While the faeries were driven back, the world is still tainted with magic - trees in the forest will attack wayward travelers; crops stubbornly refuse to be harvested; and occasionally a child will be born with gray eyes or clear hair, the signs that magic has touched the child and it must be killed, before it kills everyone else.

Liza knows magic is dangerous - she has seen people killed by magic-touched children. Her father was forced to leave her infant sister out by the edge of the woods after she was born with clear hair. That loss caused her mother to run away, and shortly after Liza begins to have magical visions. Terrified that this means her father will kill her, Liza runs blindly into the forest. Matthew, a boy in the village who knows first hand how dangerous magic can be, follows her, though neither know how to survive in the enchanted forest. They are rescued by a mysterious woman with magical powers of her own, and discover a whole town where magic is not feared, but is respected as a tool. Liza's visions grow more powerful, leading her to believe she knows how to find her mother, leading her to start an epic quest with Matthew and Allie, another girl with magic powers, in tow.

Atmospherically and somewhat thematically, this reminded me a lot of Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth, especially as both protagonists discover there's a whole wide world outside of their constrictive home towns.

It seemed like this wanted to become an epic quest story, but it never quite had a chance to grow beyond a bare skeleton of a quest narrative. Descriptions, especially of magic in action, are fuzzy and I often had to re-read paragraphs to figure out how something happened (and even then it wouldn't always be clear). Someone who wants to know all the little details of this post-apocalyptic world is going to be disappointed, but as an introduction to the genre (post-apocalyptic and/or fantasy) it's a good jumping off point.

2 comments:

Anna Rhoswen said...

I think you and fantasy are like me and non-fic, where I assume all non-fic will be high handed, boring, and ridiculous. Thankfully, I've found some great non-fic this year, to match your great fantasy!

A great non-DiD fantasy is Mercedes Lackeys' "One Hundred Kingdoms" series, which more or less follows a failed Cinderella as she becomes a Fairy Godmother - and she is NOT a DiD. It's one of my favorite series, for sure, especially for retakes on classic fairytales.

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