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Spell Hunter (Faery Rebels Series)

Spell Hunter (Faery Rebels Series)

4.2 21
by R. J. Anderson

Forget everything you think you know about faeries. . . .

Creatures full of magic and whimsy?

Not in the Oakenwyld. Not anymore.

Deep inside the great Oak lies a dying faery realm, bursting with secrets instead of magic. Long ago the faeries mysteriously lost their magic. Robbed of their powers, they have become selfish and


Forget everything you think you know about faeries. . . .

Creatures full of magic and whimsy?

Not in the Oakenwyld. Not anymore.

Deep inside the great Oak lies a dying faery realm, bursting with secrets instead of magic. Long ago the faeries mysteriously lost their magic. Robbed of their powers, they have become selfish and dull-witted. Now their numbers are dwindling and their very survival is at stake.

Only one young faery-Knife-is determined to find out where her people's magic has gone and try to get it back. Unlike her sisters, Knife is fierce and independent. She's not afraid of anything—not the vicious crows, the strict Faery Queen, or the fascinating humans living nearby. But when Knife disobeys the Faery Queen and befriends a human named Paul, her quest becomes more dangerous than she realizes. Can Knife trust Paul to help, or has she brought the faeries even closer to the brink of destruction?

Talented newcomer R. J. Anderson creates an extraordinary new fantasy world and weaves a gripping tale of lost magic, high adventure, and surprising friendship in which the fate of an entire realm rests on the shoulders of one brave faery rebel.

Editorial Reviews

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Readers will be racing through the pages right along with Knife to discover the fate of her world and her love."
Melissa Marr
“Anderson crafts lore-true characters in our modern world. I was overjoyed to find this gem.”
Sarah Prineas
“This is the best kind of fantasy: a book that makes faeries wonderfully real and maybe even living in our own backyards.”
Megan Whalen Turner
“FAERY REBELS: SPELL HUNTER has the charm of Mary Norton’s THE BORROWERS and the edge of Holly Black’s TITHE.”
Patricia C. Wrede
“Knife is just my kind of heroine—strong and independent, with a huge helping of curiosity to get her into trouble, and the bravery and intelligence to get out of trouble again and again.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Readers will be racing through the pages right along with Knife to discover the fate of her world and her love.”
Romantic Times
“Anderson is a gifted writer with a sure touch for both characterization and plot, and Knife is an absolutely fantastic protagonist – fiercely independent and curious. This book is a page–turning romp.”
The Times (London)
“Pure pleasure.... A particularly charming, well-drawn romantic thriller. Highly Recommended.”
ALA Booklist
“A highly readable, sophisticated tale of romance and self–sacrifice. Readers will hope for more from this talented new author.”
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
“Anderson creates a fascinating world. This compelling story is full of adventure and mystery.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Readers will be racing through the pages right along with Knife to discover the fate of her world and her love.”
The Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books
“Readers will be racing through the pages right along with Knife to discover the fate of her world and her love.”
VOYA - Deborah L. Dubois
The Faeries in the Oakenwyld lost their magic in the Sundering more than a hundred years ago and now are dying out. Knife, a feisty, independent young faery, is determined to find out why and how to restore the magic, even if she has to defy the Faery Queen. Knife finds that the loss of magic is somehow connected to the humans who live nearby. She befriends Paul, a human from the House, in disobedience to the Queen and inadvertently exposes the faeries of the Oakenwyld to danger. Her relationship with Paul blossoms into romance and becomes the vehicle for the faeries' salvation. Anderson creates a fascinating world where the faeries are selfish, dull-witted, and almost prisoners as a result of the Queen's fear of humans and the secrets that she keeps. Knife's curiosity is problematic to them, but it is also the way to saving the colony. She is an adventurer who refuses to stay cooped up in the Oak, but she really cares for all the faeries. The entire cast of characters is well-developed, especially Knife and Paul, whose relationship takes many turns as they grow to be friends and more. Even the Queen, who is keeping everyone confined to the Oak, is really trying to do what she thinks is right. This compelling story is full of adventure and mystery that will have readers anxiously awaiting the next in the series. Reviewer: Deborah L. Dubois
School Library Journal
Gr 5–7—The faery world is crumbling. During a disaster called the Sundering, these small, fragile, winged creatures lost all of their magic save that which allows them to fly, and they live inside a great oak tree, fearful of people and animals. True friendship and love are foreign to them. Worse, they are falling victim to a kind of dementia they call the Silence, and are dying. Into this picture comes Knife: tough, brave, adventurous, and soon taking on the job of Queen's Hunter. While defending herself against an attacking crow, she is rescued and taken home by a human. Knife becomes convinced that the mystery of their lost magic and the dementia are connected to the faeries' fear of humans and becomes committed to saving her community. The heart of the book lies in the relationship that develops between Knife and the human Paul, who is a paraplegic. Anderson draws on echoes from countless fairy tales and legends about the relationships between human men and faerie women to enrich this gripping and involving story. While the main characters are vividly drawn, some of the secondary characters and background story are sketched more hastily. Though the book looks like it's for a younger audience, middle-school readers who are willing to stay with the story through its first third will find ample rewards as the relationship between Knife and Paul evolves.—Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City
Kirkus Reviews
Bryony might be a sweetly pretty faery living in an oak tree, but this fierce pixie certainly doesn't live a sweetly pretty life. The all-female faeries of the Oak live in hunger and fear, protected from danger by their despotic Queen and shorn of the magic that once made them great. Since the Days of Magic ended, the faeries are at risk from crows, cats and humans. With a stolen blade, Bryony renames herself Knife and becomes the Hunter, the protector of those faeries who fearfully venture out of the Oak to scavenge food. Knife, however, has a secret: her friendship with the wheelchair-bound human, Paul. With Paul's help, Knife might restore the faeries' lost magic, but all the petty forces of the Oak are arrayed against her. Despite small touches of flavor from the conventions of modern urban fantasy, however, Knife's story resembles a Victorian fairy tale more than anything else, from the treatment of Paul's disability to the faeries' destiny as helpmeets to genius men. Not much girl power here. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Faery Rebels Series
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)
880L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter SNY

Chapter One

"I only want to go out for a little, little while," the faery child pleaded. "Just below the window, on that branch. I won't fly away and I won't tell anyone, I promise."

"Oh, Bryony, you know you can't." Wink's voice came from the other side of the sewing table, muffled by a mouth full of pins. Her red hair had come free of its knot, falling in bedraggled ringlets, and her cheeks were pink with the room's oppressive heat. "None of us can. It isn't safe."

"But the Gatherers go out all the time," said Bryony. "And so does Thorn."

"Thorn is the Queen's Hunter," Wink told her with unusual sternness, "and without her and the Gatherers we'd all starve. But they only go out when they have to, and they don't stay out any longer than they have to, and you and I don't have to, so there."

Bryony jumped up and dragged a stool over to the window, hopping up on the seat for a better view. If she looked straight out, there was nothing but leaves and branches. But if she craned her neck and peered all the way down, she could just see—

"Oh, Bryony, do sit down," said Wink wearily. "You're blocking all the fresh air."

Bryony made a face and plopped back onto her seat, a wobbly construction of twigs and dried grass that felt as though it might come to pieces any minute. "But it's hot in here," she muttered. "And so ugly." Like most of the other rooms inside the Oak, the apartment she shared with Wink was plain-walled, clumsily furnished, and cramped. Not like the garden she had glimpsed through the open window, its velvety stretch of lawn framed by shrubberiesand dotted with bright flowers. That was beauty.

"Why don't you go down to the kitchen?" said Wink distractedly, eyes fixed on the seam she was pinning. "I hear the Gatherers found a bees' nest this morning. If you wipe dishes or sweep the floor a bit, they might let you have a piece of honeycomb."

"I'm not hungry." Besides, Mallow was in the kitchen, and no one would dare offer Bryony such a sweet bargain when the Chief Cook was around. Except perhaps Sorrel, who was old and kindly and more than a little absentminded—but Bryony had not seen Sorrel in days.

"Polish the looking glass, then," said Wink.

Bryony perked up. The full-length mirror on its carved stand was the one lovely object in the room, a relic from the Days of Magic. It had belonged to the previous Seamstress, who was Bryony's own egg-mother and namesake, and Bryony had spent many hours in front of it, whispering secrets to her own reflection. There were no other children in the Oak, so the white-haired girl in the mirror was the closest thing to a playmate she knew.

She rose and stepped toward the glass—but even as she moved, the window caught her eye again. Between the branches of the great Oak glowed dazzling gems of blue sky, and the leaves whispered promises of a breeze she longed to feel. A robin lighted on a nearby twig, cocking its head at her, and Bryony felt a sudden urge to dive through the window and leap upon its back. Together they would soar far away from the Oak, to a place where she too could fly free. . . .

With a flick of its wings, the robin vanished. Another chance missed, thought Bryony, and frustration swelled like a wasps' nest inside her. "It's not fair," she burst out. "Why can't we go out? Just because the Queen says it's not safe—how does she know? She never leaves the Oak either!"

Wink snatched the last pin out of her mouth, looking shocked. "Of course she doesn't leave the Oak! She's the one who's kept us all alive since the rest of us lost our magic. If it weren't for her protection the Oak would sicken and die, and all sorts of horrible creatures would come crawling inside to gobble us up. She doesn't dare go out, because if anything happens to her, it'd be the end for all of us!" Her voice trembled on the last phrase, as though she could already see the disaster happening.

Bryony leaned on the windowsill, staring out at the sky. "It's still not fair," she muttered.

Her words were followed by a heavy pause, then a sigh from Wink. "I suppose you're old enough to know," she said. "I didn't like to tell you before, but—"

"I already know about the Sundering," interrupted Bryony, who had spent a whole afternoon dusting bookshelves to get the story from Campion, the Oak's Librarian. "A long time ago someone put a curse on everyone in the Oak, so we couldn't do magic anymore. And everybody got confused and scared and a lot of faeries died. And then Queen Amaryllis came, only she wasn't called Amaryllis yet and she wasn't a Queen, but I can't remember that part—"

"Her name was Alder," said Wink softly.

Bryony ignored the interruption. "And she still had her magic because she wasn't in the Oak when the Sundering happened, so she had to become Queen because nobody else was clever or strong enough anymore. And she made lots of different rules to try to keep people safe from the crows and foxes and things outside, but they kept making silly mistakes and getting killed anyway, and finally she told everyone that it wasn't safe to go out of the Oak, ever." She finished the last sentence in a single breath, and turned defiantly to look at Wink. "See, I told you I knew."

"Oh . . . yes," said Wink, flustered. "Well, I suppose—"

"Except that it's still a stupid rule," Bryony went on hotly, "because I'm not silly and I'm not going to be killed, so there!" With a flash of her wings, she hopped onto the windowsill.

Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter SNY. Copyright © by R. Anderson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

Sarah Prineas
“This is the best kind of fantasy: a book that makes faeries wonderfully real and maybe even living in our own backyards.”
Melissa Marr
“Anderson crafts lore-true characters in our modern world. I was overjoyed to find this gem.”
Megan Whalen Turner
“FAERY REBELS: SPELL HUNTER has the charm of Mary Norton’s THE BORROWERS and the edge of Holly Black’s TITHE.”
Patricia C. Wrede
“Knife is just my kind of heroine—strong and independent, with a huge helping of curiosity to get her into trouble, and the bravery and intelligence to get out of trouble again and again.”

Meet the Author

R. J. Anderson was born in Uganda, raised in Ontario, schooled in New Jersey, and has spent much of her life dreaming of other worlds entirely. At the age of twelve she borrowed her parents' electric typewriter and began hammering out her first fantasy novel. Now married and a mother of three, Rebecca reads to her children the classic works of fantasy and science fiction that enlivened her own childhood, and she tries to bring a similar sense of humor, adventure, and timeless wonder to her own work. She is also the author of Wayfarer, Arrow, and the teen psychological thriller Ultraviolet.

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Spell Hunter (Faery Rebels Series) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I keep seeing all these great reviews (4 or even 5 star ratings) on all sorts of websites for this and I'm just floored by it. The idea behind Faery Rebels was so original that I kept trying to force myself to get into this book. I WANTED to like it, but I just can't. I think this book will appeal more to younger kids. Perhaps, here inlies part of the problem since I'm in my late 20's. It just seemed too...simple, I guess. A lot of the events/situations were quite predictable. Some of the characters' conversations, as well as events that transpired between them were too cliche. It was very slow moving, it took a good 2/3 of the book to even spark a little of my interest. The rest of the time I was just trying to get through the book because as a rule I don't like leaving a book unread-no matter how aweful or boring. Regarding the characters, I felt that they too lacked inspiration. I like reading books that creates strong feelings/emotions towards the characters, whether an intense hatred or love. This book hardly created any emotion at all. Paul was a very weak character-he just sort of was there. Despite all the situations he went through, I couldn't muster much sympathy or empathy for him even though the situations clearly called for some. I'm just so bummed because I really felt that this book had so much potential. Amazingly enough the ending piqued my interest enough that I might TRY to read the sequel to see how everything can possibly work out. Aghh, the power of hope (that I will find the writing to be better and the characters more appealing). I hope that I'm not setting myself up for another disappointment. To those who will read this book I would suggest that you don't expect much thrill, much danger, much adventure, much of a love story, or much character chemistry...perhaps then it won't totally disappoint.
BookluverCarol More than 1 year ago
I don't think I've read a book where the main character is and knows that she's a fairy, so this book was very surprising and very original. OK, so the book starts off a bit slow but if you hang in there, it will so pick up in the first few chapters. Bryony (AKA 'Knife') was a spunky, strong, character who puts others before her. I don't think I found anything wrong with Knife. She is now one of my favorite characters. Knife was so well-developed and she never let anyone get in her way and she didn't give up. The world she inhabits and the way she acted was so interesting and just keeps you hooked. Her naive-ness towards the humans, her actions, her everything was just excellent. The secondary characters were just as amazing, just as great. They each reminded me of humans, except for the fact that they were 5-7 inches high and that they were faeries, but still, the way that they acted towards each other and how they sometimes showed human emotions really made me care for the characters. I now have a sort-of attachment to them. This book was really original and I liked the faery world that R.J. Anderson created and how different it is from other faery novels. Her writing was superb and I just loved it; I loved the imagery, Knife's voice, and the plot. Anderson really added a uniqueness to the faery world and she wrote a spell-binding novel. Overall: I highly recommend and suggest that you buy a copy at your local bookstore. You do not want to miss out on reading this outstanding debut. I cannot wait for the sequel to be released! I just wished that the sequel would come out sooner.And my review does this book no justice. Carol http://bookluver-carol.blogspot.com
GirlwiththeBraids More than 1 year ago
The faeries of the Oak went through a terrible event called the Sundering but a hundred years later, none of the faeries know what it had been about. With the Oak's population dwindling, Knife is appointed the Queen's Hunter. Maybe she could find out what has caused the Silence that has been taking some many of the faeries' lives and cure it. When she takes a mayor interest in humans, Knife visits the House and becomes friends with the teenager, Paul. No one knew of Knife and Paul's friendship, but when Queen finds out, Knife has to make a difficult decision. But how could Knife hurt a human . she's in love with? Brilliantly written and marvelous with a mix of fantasy and reality, Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter rocks my socks! I dare say I enjoyed this more than any of the Harry Potter books. Author R.J. Anderson unfolds a world of magical creatures that are forbidden to have contact with humans. The dilemmas seemed real even though the main theory was bizarre. The unique characters caught my attention and kept it throughout the book. I loved it! Reading how Knife and Paul's worlds intertwine was interesting and most of all, amazing. This book left me lying in bed with a smile on my face. : )
KathyMacMillan More than 1 year ago
What a story! I have read a lot of faery fantasy, and this was such a fresh take, full of delightful, compelling characters. I loved Knife and her drive to bring art and magic back to her people. And I loved the fact that I couldn’t predict what was going to happen, just hold on for the ride. Anderson creates a full world inside the Oak, with details of culture and history that create a believable, layered society. Clearly there is far more to discover in this world, and I can’t wait to read on in the series!
224perweek More than 1 year ago
I really liked this story. It was romantic, sweet, heart breaking,......all in one. Not what I thought it was going to be. I really liked the character Paul. Very typical fairy story though.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
How are you? i just wanted to let you know...that things worked out very well..well i should have told u this..a week ago..but i wanted to email u when i was fully confident that things are workin out... yuangi is back with me..our relationship is just like before the first time we met... Ok Dr Obodo ,email Dr @     templeofanswer@hotmail.co.uk, cell +2348155425481 if necessary 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Natasa-WMYB More than 1 year ago
In Knife, the fairy community of Oakenwyld our heroine belongs to is steadily declining, the people dying out. While the outside human world progresses in its technology and methods, the fairies in the Oak do not move forward or make any attempt, and sometimes even go backwards. Perhaps this has something to do with the loss of their magic many years ago during the Sundering, an event which also led to older fairies dying from a sickness known as the Silence, something that was never seen before the Sundering. When Knife is appointed as the Oak’s hunter, a position that allows her to travel outside the Oak, she takes it upon herself to find a way to save her people. Then Knife meets Paul McCormick, the son of two humans living in the House opposite the fairies’ Oak. I really liked the development of the relationship between her and Paul. For one thing it’s quite unconventional and, because of the Oakenwyld’s history, any contact with humans is feared, and that in itself makes it an interesting situation. Through Paul, Knife learns that humans aren’t what the Oakenwyld makes them out to be and that, somehow, they are a key to saving her people. Knife is a very frank, practical and no-nonsense type of character. Unlike many young adult books I felt I could empathize with her and understood why she took the actions she made. The pacing of the story was very fine in my opinion, a sort of one-thing-leads-to-another scenario that ties up nicely, despite the information overload near the end. I had to flip back and forth to figure out what was happening there, but it all made sense in the end. The book doesn’t lack for vivid descriptions; everything is outlined and drawn out in its own special way, and all of Knife’s characters are quite developed, though I felt Amaryllis’ performance wasn’t quite up to par to what R. J. Anderson wanted to portray. Knife is a fun and unconventional fairy tale with original characters (and one strange name, but it grows on you) and an interesting premise. The story might not be completely original, but its execution is decent in its own right. I forward to reading the sequel, Rebel, and the third book which will tie up the trilogy in 2011.
Ethan Fenstermacher More than 1 year ago
Amazing detail touch of romance story that will be with u forever
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LiteraryCravings More than 1 year ago
Step into a mystical world of Faeries in R. J. Anderson's new tale Spell Hunter. With a unique tale on the well known mystical creatures, faeries, I'm gradually drawn into the life of Knife, one of the youngest faerie living in the ancient oak tree called Oakenwyld. When the faeries of the Oak are in danger of extinction from their lack of magic, Knife takes it upon herself to face the dangerous outside human world in search of a way to help her kind. Through out the journey Knife is tested in many different ways all the while learning about her self and who she wants to become. The trials and dangers that she faces, from hungry animals to humans and even her fellow faeries had me totally engaged in the story. Though the beginning wasn't as fast paced and straight to the point as I would have liked, I understood Anderson's reasoning for the information that furthered the plot in the end. Soon enough Knife was going on daring adventures and fighting for her life and the lives of her people, as well as falling in love. I enjoyed unique spin of the faerie lore that Anderson created with her faeries. The characters in the story were very interesting, all of their voices were compelling and real. I cared about what was happening at the Oak and how Knife would help save them. I enjoyed the growing relationship between Paul and Knife, it added another level of tension within the story as well. The romance didn't feel rushed and I appreciated how they grew and learned from each other. Anderson wrote a captivating tale filled with adventure, mystery romance and danger, which I feel will leave readers wanting more.
mrdarcy3 More than 1 year ago
Faeries of Oakenwyld lost their magic years ago and as a result never go outside their tree unless they have a job to perform. However, Bryony, is not like most faeries. She's curious about the outside world and wants to know why her species is dying. When she becomes a hunter for her clan, she's finally able to go outside and explore. She LOVES the freedom of flying. It's not all fun and games as she must gather food for her people while surviving crows and other dangerous creatures. While guarding the gatherers, she battles a crow and falls into the lap of a human boy stuck in a wheel chair. He takes her back to his house to heal her, where things are tense among his family. He just survived an accident and is forever confined to a wheelchair. Bitter towards life, he rejects the love and help of his family. Once Bryony recovers, they begin to talk. She slowly uncovers secrets of human life and he start coming out of his shell. Knowing she must return to the tree, she makes a point to keep visiting her friend in secret. While part of her can't keep away from him, the other part wonders if he might be able to help her and her people. Will her secret friendship with Paul be uncovered and mentioned to the Queen? Will Bryony's people uncover hidden truths about their past and find a way to heal their future? It took me a chapter to get into the story, but after that I was hooked. I LOVED IT! I wanted to drop everything and finish the story. I'm so excited there's another three books in the series. I loved the world R.J. Anderson created and how the faeries interact with humans. It's an engaging fantastical tale.
kittydanza More than 1 year ago
SPELL HUNTER, by R.J. Anderson, was a faery story like no other. Anderson created an amazing world full of fantasy right in our own backyard. This book was unlike any other fey book I have read thus far. Anderson went a different direction from main stream fey and produced an amazing story. The faeries portrayed in this book were scared and lost with only a Queen to look after them after all their magic disappeared mysteriously. It only took a spark of imagination to get the ball rolling in figuring out what happened to their magic and how to get it back. I really enjoyed the plot of this book. I thought it was a great concept and I was excited to see what journey Knife would undertake. The characters were very unique. Some were stuck on the idea that humans caused their magic to disappear and others had more human qualities that made me think that the influence of humans might not be a bad thing. I adored Knife and her curiosity for the world outside the Oak, and her and Paul made a great team. Overall this was a great read, and I am excited to read the next book, Wayfarer.
pagese More than 1 year ago
This story has the potential to be so much more. I'm not sure why, but I felt like it was missing something. I liked the idea of faery's that have lost their magic. And the circumstances behind the mystery was really intriguing. I think I had a hard time with Knife. She never felt interesting to me. I felt like the other characters had more personality than she did. I enjoyed the parts of the book that had interaction with other characters, and there didn't seem to be enough of that. But, I did enjoy the relationships that Knife forms. The human in the story, Paul, was a touching addition. It was interesting to see his interactions with Knife and how they effected each other. I liked the mystery of the faery people and how the differ from what they once were. I liked the mystery surrounding the Faery Queen and how I never could quite figure out if she was good or not. I think the series has potential though, and will read the next one!
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
The first FAERY REBELS book, SPELL HUNTER, is a story about, you guessed it, faeries. The story begins on a day in the life of a faery named Bryony. She is young, impetuous, and exactly like you would expect someone her age to be. Bryony lives with the others of her kind in a huge oak tree. The only faeries that are allowed to leave the tree are the gatherers when they are searching for food, or the Queen's Hunter when she leaves to protect the others and hunt for small animals. Being in the oak for so long, the faeries have forgotten many of their arts and they have no magic to wield, except the Queen. Of course, Bryony, being young and immature, doesn't see this as a way of protecting their life, she sees it as a punishment, one that she doesn't want to endure. She wants to go outside, and when she does, she is almost grabbed by a human boy. The Queen's Hunter, Thorn, takes her aside to show her exactly why they're not allowed near humans - a disease, deadly to them called The Silence, which as she is told by Thorn is caused by being around humans. After this incident, Bryony decides that what she most wants out of life is to be a gatherer. It was so exciting to find out what was really in store for Bryony. I enjoyed this book so much. The author's descriptions were very real. When Bryony was hot inside the oak, I felt hot right along with her. R. J. Anderson has built a world unlike any I have read before. She has given us a fantastic world that resides right along ours, if we'd only stop and look. Once I started reading, I had to make myself put it down. This is the first novel published by R. J. Anderson, and I am so looking forward to the next book in this series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
grannieogg More than 1 year ago
R.J. Anderson has made an exceptional debut with this tale of love, sacrifice, and redemption. Think of "fairies" as wee, tinkly creatures flitting from flower to flower with never a care? Think again. Anderson even chooses an alternative spelling ("faery") to help us see her creatures with new eyes. The faeries of Anderson's story face depopulation and degradation in a world where they have lost their magic in a disaster they can barely remember. The only faery child left, Knife, ventures into the world Outside the safety of the Oak and learns how to fight her foes as well as support her friends. The friendship she forms with a young human, Paul, changes both characters, and through their relationship the world of the faeries begins to be restored. Anderson weaves numerous timeless themes into her story: the sacrifice of one for the love of all, the lure of forbidden knowledge and its penalties and rewards, the fear and fascination of the Other, the occasional need to risk life to save it, the necessary complementarity of masculine and feminine. She raises interesting questions about the nature of gratitude in the economy of affection. She invents clever expressions suited to her characters (I myself plan to appropriate "Oh blight!" as a useful exclamation in times of distress) and she never sinks to "fairy-tale" cliché. The plot unfolds naturally through Knife's explorations; Anderson's prose is taut, her characters well-drawn and sympathetic, and her metaphors original. All this, with a lovely exploration of the elements of art, which Paul loves and shares with his new friend: "Knife was silent, gazing at the girl's luminous face. The picture was beautiful, and yet somehow it was more than that. It was as though the artist were not merely showing her a girl, but telling her something about the girl as well. Then in a flash Knife understood: That was what made the other paintings in the room special, too. They weren't just images, they were *ideas* ... If she could just figure out what they were saying...." Knife's exploration of art and her development of a newfound artistic skill remind me of nothing so much as Remy the rat's foray into French cookery in the marvelous Disney film Ratatouille. Knife and Remy would make excellent companions for any child beginning to appreciate the wonders of fine art or fine cuisine. Finally, while much in the story is well wrapped up by the end, plenty of room is left for one or more sequels. Certain questions still await answers, and we will want to see more of the lives of certain characters, especially as the faeries set about restoring their kingdom. Anderson's tale deserves the widest readership, and I can only hope that with sequels its fame will continue to spread, much as those stories of a certain boy with a lightning-shaped scar have taken root in the hearts of readers young and old.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago