Published by Chronicle Books on August 18th 2015
Source:BEA, Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley
Sixteen-year-old Beckan and her friends are the only fairies brave enough to stay in Ferrum when war breaks out. Now there is tension between the immortal fairies, the subterranean gnomes, and the mysterious tightropers who arrived to liberate the fairies. But when Beckan's clan is forced to venture into the gnome underworld to survive, they find themselves tentatively forming unlikely friendships and making sacrifices they couldn't have imagined. As danger mounts, Beckan finds herself caught between her loyalty to her friends, her desire for peace, and a love she never expected. This stunning, lyrical fantasy is a powerful exploration of what makes a family, what justifies a war, and what it means to truly love.
Well then. This was a strange, strange book. It seems like a lot of people are basically so confused that they give up, but alas, I am not too fond of DNFing, unless I have to, and in this case, I was far too curious not to keep reading. But I have no coherent thoughts on this because.. what just happened to me? Instead, let’s take a stroll through my reactions during the reading of this book:
Ah, okay, so this is about fairies. With glitter.
Oh and gnomes. The gnomes eat the fairies? That doesn’t seem nice…
Wait- the fairies willingly go to the gnomes and have sex with them? For money? And they’re all teenagers? Do they have parents? Oh, in a jar you say? Only a few odd pieces of Becken’s dad’s face… sure.
Wait- what the hell is a “Tightroper”? Where did they come from? Actually, where did any of these people/beings come from? Where are we? Why are they fighting? They have jars and houses, but they have to eat each other? Hopefully they all eat a nice healthy snack before the aforementioned sex for money…
And who is narrating this? What are these pictures?! How is this a thing:
“Once upon a time there was a writer who couldn’t write a fucking book.
I don’t know what comes next. That whole chapter’s going to need to get thrown out anyway. You completely forgot halfway through that you’d said it was raining at the beginning.
Was it raining?
No one’s ever going to know and it’s all your fault.
Put a fucking map in the next draft.
So what we have is a bit of a mess. But I kept right on reading, I did. Even though I had no idea what was happening, and I was fairly certain that I didn’t care. I almost wondered if someone at Dunkin Donuts had spiked my coffee with some kind of hallucinogen, because what was this even?
And here’s where it gets shocking: I am glad I didn’t give up! It actually got to a point where I was invested. Did I understand? No, but it somehow all made sense it context, which has to be a sign that the author did a really good job, because I don’t know how I came to grasp what was happening. Eventually it just… fell into place? And suddenly instead of being bewildered by all the stuff above, I just kind of accepted that it was the situation, and wanted to know what was going to happen next!
So, what did I like specifically, you ask?
- The characters. I don’t want to give anything away, so I will be vague here, but I loved the way Brecken, Scrap, and Josha were like a family of their own. Of course, so was Cricket, which has affected them all in various ways. They’re very messed up individuals, as you are when you can be eaten at any moment, your family is all gone, and there’s a war literally at your doorstep.
- The writing style, once I got used to it, was incredible. It’s an unreliable narrator, yes. It’s also completely unique, and downright amusing at times. It does take some getting used to, but for me, it was worth it.
- I flat out needed to know what happened! Would everyone make it out? Who would become dinner? Who would end up with who? (There was, incidentally, a lot of sex going on among these people. I don’t think it necessarily equated to feelings though? Again, this world is confusing!)
What would I have liked more of? Even in the confusion, a bit more world building would have been insanely helpful. Just a few basics, maybe a little note on if this was even Earth, or if humans were still a “thing”, or I don’t know, an answer to any of my ten billion questions.
Bottom Line: Look, this isn’t going to be for everyone, and I’d be lying if I said it was. If you can get past the point where you feel like you’re on drugs or someone is pulling a very elaborate prank, it actually gets really good! The characters are very intriguing, and even though there were unanswered questions (because that is kind of just the nature of this book) I was certainly satisfied when I finished the book. If you like unique, even weird, then this would be a great fit. Because in all honesty, I think this book is going to stay with me for quite some time!
*Quote taken from uncorrected proof, subject to change