Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Answering Review Request: Fae

Rhonda Parish asked me to read an anthology she edited call "Fae". Its theme is fairies and more specifically, the kind of fairies known as Fair Folk from the old folklore instead of the later, Victorian idea. The introduction goes into this in more detail. Suffice to say that there's a lot of diversity here. I will look at a couple for this review and then give the book as a whole a grade.
"Only The Eyes Of Children"

 This is a 1st person narrative with a smart ass half-fey. The protagonist, "Robin Archer", reminds me of Harry Dresden but he's not a detective. Instead, he's more like a vigilante. He Fights Like a Normal since his magic abilities are limited and take a huge toll on his stamina. He refuels with ice cream, coke and pork tenderloin sandwiches.

The trope, "Friend to All Children" is a big part of this story. It's an interesting take on the idea of changelings. Fae can't reproduce like humans can so they are both fascinated by and protective of children. They love playing with children in city parks and if they don't do this often enough then a compulsion could build up until they snatch a kid instead. Robin states that most Fae in the modern age are pretty good about returning them after a few days and the ones that don't usually raise the kids as their own with much love. In fact, he describes Tatiana the Fairy Queen as a paragon of maternal instinct. 

Another thing that makes this story interesting is the other part of the changeling story; the vast majority of child abductions are via other humans such as slave traders. That's the plot for this story, tracking down a certain cell of them in Indianapolis (incidentally, that city is supposedly bursting with Fae).

"Just Make Believe"

 The start of this short story sounds familiar, doesn't it? A child of adoption who has dreamed of performing magic discovers a supernatural mentor who teaches her to use her powerful latent magic and suggests that she might be a princess from the Fairy Court. However, this story has an altered sense of gravity. This girl is not the protagonist nor the view point character. That would be her "supernatural mentor" who is actually a Fae boy her age (or at least her mental age) who is ecstatic to make a friend capable of magic and has no grand adventure to Herald her into. Indeed, the plot is their budding relationship and the only conflict is personal.

The Fae boy, Robin, is a faun with illusion magic. Between his private insecurity, showing off to impress Nadia, references to stories like The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and the general tone of his first person narrative, he is high grade adorkable.

The supposedly human girl, Nadia, learns illusion magic. Neither of them know for sure how she is capable of it but Robin speculates that she has Fae blood. She's a nice girl and not in the sense of "nice as bland" but "nice as friendly" and "nice as compassionate" etc.

How useful is illusion magic when talking about teenagers who not only have "growing up" identity issues but also ones regarding their species and their relationship to each other?
"Water Sense"
It's about this kid in a desert. Everyone except him in this society has a "water sense" which I took as hydromancy. He's from a different tribe or ethnic or something and that's why he doesn't have this ability. For both reasons he is an outcast. He goes on this vision quest thing with a shaman mentor to determine the truth of his heritage and thus find his identity and water sense. It's interesting world building particularly the origin of the Water Sense and what it means for the tribes that exist off-the-pages.
I include this one in my review for a different reason than the other two. While I like it as well as the other two, this is the only one in the anthology that does not feel "complete". The others have their conclusion or resolution and any threads left dangling are more like Sequel Hooks at most.  This one feels like its missing its final scene; missing half its climax. I don't want to spoil the ending but I will make an analogy to illustrate my point; Karate Kid, Daniel going to Mr.Miyagi for training and then the movie ending as the tournament starts. 
There are others and I like them all. In fact, one of my review tweets is "the title of 'my favorite' keeps changing". That I wrote about these three does not make my top three; they were just the ones that I wrote about. If I were to tell you everything I liked about all of them then we'd be here all day.

 Trickster Eric Novels gives "Fae" an A+

Click here for the next book review (not a review request): Seinfeld and Philosophy

Click here for the previous review request: Dawn of Steam: Gods of the Sun

Brian Wilkerson is an independent novelist, freelance book reviewer, and writing advice blogger. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).

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