Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Faery Rebels

Title: Faery Rebels: Spell Hunters

Genre: Tween Magical Realism

Author: R. J. Anderson

Series: Stand-alone (currently)

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Faery Rebels: Spell Hunters:

“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.”

A young faery leaves the safety of her oak seeking answers and lost magic in the large world beyond.

The Craft: I’ll admit it upfront—I thoroughly enjoyed Faery Rebels.

The delightful premises bridges both parts of faery lore, mixing together the magical and the contemporary in a fascinating combination.

Characters entertain and intrigue, no two ever alike and always slightly unpredictable. The plot captures the imagination and continually throws the reader off balance.

In short, this story flits around on the wings of intricate plot with the colorfulness of a varied cast.

The Content: Faery Rebels is not “Christian fiction” as many think of Christian fiction (for more, see my essay here). This is not a Pilgrim’s Progress allegory. Christ is never mentioned, that I saw. Church, the Word of God, praying and other Christian disciples never grace the pages in any overt form.

Yet the foundation is unmistakably there.

Several allusions are made to a Supreme Being—the Good Gardener---who has now been largely forgotten by the faeries. It is, in fact, this Good Gardener who has set the boundaries of the faeries’ supernatural powers (which, by the way, I have no problem with as the faeries are not humans, the humans have no supernatural ability, and there are clear right and wrong uses of that power, as overseen by the Good Gardener).

Likewise, readers will find much to chew on, far beyond normal fantasy good-vs.-evil themes: the power of names, sacrificial love, how creativity feeds creativity, the need to grow/discover, gratitude, no-strings-attached giving, and selfishness.

On the negative side, the name Good Gardener is used almost as a swear word, largely because the faeries have forgotten the truth. There’s an attempted suicide, but it’s handled well and rebuked as wrong. Similarly, much deception occurs, also rebuked as wrong in the end. The line between good and evil is somewhat blurred, as no character is purely good or purely evil, but mixed in motive and action. Not that these things are poorly handled, but they should be noted since this book is targeted toward younger readers.

Summary: While there are a few areas that requite discernment, the craft is solid and the content has much worth chewing on. Not a story for the youngest of readers without parental supervision, older tweens through adults will find Faery Rebels: Spell Hunters a delightful tale worth reading again and again.

Ratings: Craft—5, Content—4, Overall—4.7 out of 5 stars

Don't forget to check out the review for book two, Wayfarer, as well!


Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Nice review, Chawna. This book received all but universal commendation from those who read it for the tour. It's nice to find such a well written tale with deep themes that make you think (without spoiling the intriguing story). I'm so happy we found R. J. Anderson.


Chawna Schroeder said...

That makes two of us!