>>This review is based upon a copy of the book provided to me free of charge by the publisher, a courtesy I appreciate, but which does not guarantee my recommendation. I strive to evaluate every book I review purely on its intrinsic merits.<<
Onward to my review of Faery Rebels–Spellhunter.
I liked this story, and there’s a lot to like. Bryony/Knife is an appealing heroine, and her journey from self-centeredness to generosity, trust, and self-sacrifice is honest and believable. The story moves along at a good clip and includes some gripping scenes of aerial combat and hair-breadth escapes.
Ms. Anderson has created a coherent and sensible picture of faery society, acknowledging the old myths and legends without being constrained by them. She portrays a community that has lost its way and forgotten the source of its life and magic–and perhaps the most important loss is their understanding of friendship, love, mutual respect, trust, and all the other little things that make life in any community valuable and worth living.
In fact, I’d venture to say this story is all about trust. Bryony is born into a society whose motto might be, “Trust No One.” Over time, she discovers that the joy in her life comes primarily from her interactions with those few other faeries who not only refuse to take advantage of her, but who genuinely care about her and look after her. She finds a shaky, unlikely friendship with someone who could crush her like a bug, but who proves himself worthy of her trust. To her astonishment, she learns that he needs her as much as she needs him. It’s this friendship that opens the way to not only expanding her own universe but saving her people, and the key to that salvation is a single act of total, unreserved trust.
Some rather profound messages, and they flow through the story without any sense of artificiality or preachiness. It’s a good read, and would appeal, I think, to anyone pre-teen and up who enjoys fantasy stories.
Which leads me to a couple of observations that have no bearing on the story or its merits:
“A Knife by Any Other Name…” Faeries change their name when they receive their vocation within the community, as does our heroine, from the woodsy “Bryony” to the decidedly unsentimental and deadly-sounding “Knife.” Likewise, Ms. Anderson’s American publisher decided to change the name of this story from Knife, its original title in Great Britain. The ways of marketing wizards are subtle and devious, but in this case, I think they’ve erred. One could say that Bryony/Knife is something like a rebel (though she’s trying to restore her society, not rebel against it), but there’s no “spellhunting” going on in this story, and I expect the title Faery Rebels will induce eye-rolling in any prospective reader over 12 years old. Younger readers will find a more grown-up story than they or their parents might expect, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but to my mind, the original title provides a better signal that this isn’t a chipper little bit of childish fluff.
“Oooh, is that a Pierre Cardin Sweater?” I rarely find myself in a situation where my choice of reading material threatens my “manly-man” credentials, but imagine for a moment a forty-something guy, on lunch break at the Army post where he works, cracking open a slim hardcover embossed with the words Faery Rebels in shiny purple foil (I removed the dust jacket, with its picture of an eerily-serene Bryony, which was impossible to camouflage). Sigh. The things I do for the CSFF Blog Tour.
Ah, my cup of mango herb tea is ready. I’ll savor its delicate bouquet whilst perusing the other postings on the Tour, then report back tomorrow. Ciao.
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Rebecca LuElla Miller
New Authors Fellowship
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul