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The Uncertain Places

Average Rating 4
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  • Posted September 10, 2011

    A subtle, complex encounter with Faerie

    This is contemporary fantasy of the sort that revolves around the intersection of the ordinary world and Faerie. That in itself is pretty ho-hum. It's all too easy to create fae/fairies/elves who are humans with pointy ears and magical powers. Very pretty humans, but still humans. That said, Goldstein is no ordinary writer, so her treatment is subtle and edgy. Her fae are not nice people at all, and sane people truly do not want to have dealings with them. She tumbles us into the story as a college student, Will, falls in love with Livvy, an enigmatic chemistry major and brilliant chef. Through Will's eyes and the lens of 1970s Berkeley, we get to know Livvy's family, a family of extraordinary women, a family that is still in thrall to a bargain made centuries ago by their ancestor. In every generation, a child is put to sleep for seven years, during which time his or her spirit fights in eternal battle, in exchange for which, the family enjoys extraordinary good luck. No one has ever been able to get free of the cycle. I think that's the true menace of Faerie -- that once a bargain is struck, even if it wasn't by you, there's no outwitting or tricking or appealing to compassion. And the reward -- what you get from the bargain -- is as addictive as heroin. But Will's essential decency, not to mention his devotion to Livvy, won't let him walk away. We experience the journey through his eyes as he delves progressively deeper into the world only hinted at in the darkest fairy tales. The Brothers Grimm were hiding something . . . for good reason. It's a complex, absorbing, beautifully written tale that stands head and shoulders above the rest of its kind.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    The key to this super fairy tale is the cast who make the legend of the Bondsmaid seem real

    In 1971 while attending Berkeley, Ben Avery introduces his roommate sophomore Will Taylor to the Feierabend sisters (Maddie the actress, Livvy the chemistry major and Rose the family historian). While Ben dates Maddie, Will falls in love with Livvy. However, Will finds Livvy's affluent and seemingly fortunate family of all females odd. He especially does not understand the reactions of her two sisters and their mother Sylvia when Livvy falls into a coma like deep sleep as if they knew this was her destiny.

    Will soon learns his beloved is under an enchantment spell that goes back generations to when the family made deal with the Beyond as written in a censored Grimm Brothers fairy tale The Bondsmaid. Desperate to awaken his sleeping beauty, Will searches for a way to circumvent the deal with no help from her family while the fairy perpetrators keep him off kilter though he vows to keep trying whether it takes two decades or his lifetime.

    The key to this super fairy tale is the cast who make the legend of the Bondsmaid seem real. Will is a wonderful Prince Charming hero though his DNA would say otherwise and the three siblings are similar in the sense they all contain a special glamour but also are radically different in personality. The efforts of Will (with Ben as his sidekick) to awaken his Sleeping Beauty has so much occurring in the 1970s and 1980s that it could have been expanded into two romantic urban fantasies; as readers will relish as we root for the hero in his odyssey into The Uncertain Places of love.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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