Category Archives: Fantasy

Review: Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (July 10, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0385535783
  • Source: Publisher

Twenty years ago, sixteen-year-old Tara Martin disappeared from her small English town.  Her boyfriend Richie, whom just also happened to be her brother Peter’s best friend, was the prime suspect. Little evidence of any crime was found and for the past two decades, Richie has walked the streets a free man, although deemed guilty by the townspeople. Peter is now married with young children of his own. Unable to overcome the accusations made against his best friend, they haven’t spoken in decades.

One Christmas morning, the Martin family is shocked to find Tara standing in the doorway. Not the adult-form of Tara, but instead appearing just as she did when she disappeared. Her explanation is haunting: she was abducted by a man, a fairy, and escorted to another world in which time passes at a slower rate. In her mind, she’s only been missing for six months. Scrambling for explanations, Peter takes his sister to an assortment of doctors for a battery of tests to determine her health…and definite age. One of the doctor’s Tara visits is a psychologist, Vivian Underwood, one of the few people with which Tara will share details of her experiences.Underwood believes Tara is suppressing memories to difficult to face, suffering a combination of amnesia and delusion.

Her family can’t help but wonder what really happened. They tip-toe around her, not really facing and accepting what has transpired. Her parents are in denial and Peter struggles to find a logical explanation for what has happened. The only individual who seems to embrace Tara for who she is presently is Richie. Her reappearance has allowed him to face medical issues he’s been facing for years. All in all, Tara’s return, despite all the questions, is a gift to those around her. In Tara’s case, however, her past isn’t what is in question to her personally but instead her future…and just where she intends to spend it.

Told from varying viewpoints, readers are allowed to experience what transpires from a number of key characters, each of their stories ranging in credibility. We learn a great deal about each of the main characters through their actions. Characters that may seem minor to the storyline surprise readers when their value and impact to the storyline is discovered. Joyce uses a great deal of imagery and folklore in this novel, enveloping the reader in the mysterious fairy world in which Tara was held captive. Known for his talent at portraying reality with a tinge of fantasy, Joyce truly embraces all of the elements of fantasy, and in a sense, magical realism as well. Bottom line, Some Kind of Fairy Tale is not merely a novel but an experience in and of itself, destined to gain the interest of fans from a number of genres. Highly recommended.

 

Reuniting With A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of a book that forever changed my reading experience: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. Rather than write a review of this truly epic book, I will instead share my personal experience in reading this book.

It’s not often that I make this claim, but I sincerely believe that this book and I were meant to find one another. Over twenty years ago, I picked up and read A Wrinkle in Time for the first time. My main reason for picking it up was it’s status on several banned book lists. Never a true rebel, my rebellion was expressed through the reading of books banned from my own school library. These books include Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 1984, and many, many others.

The main character, Meg Murray was a fairly average little girl. Not overtly beautiful, but not hideously ugly either. She was an unremarkable girl who does something remarkable. For me, this character gave me the strength to never give up, to strive for my highest goals, to never give up. Meg used traits and gifts that she naturally possessed in order to save her father, and ultimately her younger brother, from the grasp of a dark being, referred to as IT.  Let me tell you how huge it was for me, a shy, quiet, nerdy-girl to read a book like this.  A book that wasn’t the typical (no offense) Sweet Valley High or Babysitter’s Club books that seemed to be the only books available for girls my age. I hungered for a book that was more than the light teen fare available at that time. A Wrinkle in Time was that book, a book that made me think, made me hope, made me dream.

A Wrinkle in Time also introduced me to the unknown world of science fiction. Who knew time travel could be so thrilling?  A Wrinkle in Time was one of the few books in the science fiction genre featuring a strong female character, a trait I found rewarding as a young, shy girl. One of my favorite passages, by far, was one in which the children’s lives were compared to a sonnet: “A strict form, but freedom within it.”  One of the adults within the story states: “You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you.” This is a phrase that I have held dear my entire life, one that changed my outlook on life, giving me the strength and the power to rise out of my shell and assert myself.

Since it has been nearly two decades since I read A Wrinkle in Time for the first time, I gladly accepted a copy of the 5oth Anniversary edition for review. As soon as I read the first line (“It was a dark and stormy night”) I was transported to my youth, recalled reading this book, hiding under the covers, a small flashlight the only illumination that permitted me to read. I’m no psychic, but reading that first line, I knew I was in for a truly engaging read.

Reading this book again, over two decades later, I found myself reminiscing books like this, real coming-of-age books that have lasting impact. I can count on one hand books that affected me this profoundly. I wish I would have continued with this series and the characters that influenced me so greatly. While I missed out on this, I don’t plan on letting this happen with my boys. While they might not relate to the characters like I did, I do want to introduce them to the book and devour the series alongside them.

L’Engle’s story touched on issues I was ignorant of during my first reading; the symbolism she uses isn’t outright obvious but something I quickly picked up, reading as an adult: Good versus evil, freedom of choice, the beauty within. Never could I have imagined enjoying this book any more than I did as a child, but reading this book, as an adult, as a mother, I see a completely new beauty within.

Before I close, I’d be remiss not to mention some of the bonus materials contained within the 50th Anniversary commemorative edition of A Wrinkle in Time.  They include:

•       Frontispiece photo*†
•       Photo scrapbook with approximately 10 photos*†
•       Manuscript pages*†
•      Letter from 1963 Caldecott winner, Ezra Jack Keats*†
•       New introduction by Katherine Paterson, US National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature  †
•       New afterword by Madeleine L’Engle’s granddaughter Charlotte Voiklis including six never-before-seen photos †
•       Murry-O’Keefe family tree with new artwork †
•       Madeleine L’Engle’s Newbery acceptance speech

* Unique to this edition                † never previously published

For more information about this special 50th Anniversary celebration, please visit the official A Wrinkle in Time Facebook page!

 

What book from your childhood was most memorable for you?

Frightful Friday: Don’t Breathe A Word by Jennifer McMahon

Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week. Feel free to grab the button & join in!

This week’s featured book is Don’t Breathe a Word by Jennifer McMahon

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; Original edition (May 17, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0061689378
  • Source: Publisher
  •  

    Fifteen years ago, a twelve-year-old girl named Lisa walks into a Vermont forest, never to be seen again. This forest contained a small town called Reliant.  The residents of this town all disappeared one day in 1918, never to be seen again.  Food was left on the table, lifestock in the fields.  The only “survivor” was Lisa’s grandfather, Eugene O’Toole, an infant at the time.

    Reliance was full of ghosts.  That’s what some folks in town said, anyway.  People claimed they saw green lights, mist that turned into a man who walked the edge of the woods, mumbling in a language no one had ever heard before….’People just don’t disappear without a trace like that-not a whole town anyway.  You kids shouldn’t play out there.

    Yet Reliance was exactly where the kids were playing. Lisa, her younger brother Sam, and cousin Evie, spent days running through the forest and investigating the ruined buildings of the homes of Reliant, now just stone cellars. Lisa starts finding items amoung the rubble, a shiny penny with a hole in it, circa 1918. Lisa becomes fascinated about the lore of the forest and the fairies that reportedly live there. She hopes to one day meet Teilo, the king of the Fairies. Then one day, it appears that dream comes true.

    Fifteen years later, present day, Sam is in his twenties and is dating Phoebe, a woman in her thirties. He doesn’t talk much about his sister’s disappearance. Phoebe remembers the day Lisa went missing, not realizing that Sam was her brother until years later, he takes her home to meet his family. Strange things begin to occur: a phone call leads them to discover a “Fairy Book” hidden in the attic wall. They receive notes in mailboxes: “I am back from the land of fairies. I’ll be seeing you soon.”

    Sam must open up to Phoebe so they can get to the bottom of these mysterious activities. He’s forced to reveal a secret, a secret he’s vowed for years to keep.

    In Don’t Breathe a Word, the reader moves between the past and present in alternating chapters. Both the reader, and the main characters within the story, have no clue as to the idendity of Lisa’s abductor, or what really happened that fateful summer. This tinge of the unknown really added suspense to the story. As with McMahon’s other books, there is a clear and definite supernatural tinge to the story, but in this case it also includes a bit of fantasy. What little girl doesn’t love to play fairies? In this case, however, the fairies in question aren’t beautiful and sparkly, but instead left me with chills. Admittedly when I first learned this book dealt with fairies, I was a bit skeptical. However, the mystery that is unveiled monopolizes the fantasy aspect, a key benefit in my opinion. By the end, it is up to the reader to determine what the truth is, it’s not laid out obviously but instead must be contemplated and discovered.

    The main characters, Sam & Phoebe, both have had their share of childhood trauma. Sam’s sister disappears, his father battles depression, attempting suicide multiple times, never really returning to normal. Phoebe was raised by an alcoholic mother who believes it would have been best if she’d just drowned Phoebe when she was a baby. These two characters are well drawn and rich with detail. It’s not hard for the reader to feel for both of them and hope for a better, happier life for them both.

    I’d be remiss not to mention the book’s cover. Like McMahon’s other books, the cover of Don’t Breathe a Word is stark, frightening, literally in your face.  The look on the little girl’s face sends chills down your spine, a characteristic that remains through the entirety of the book.

    Don’t Breathe a Word is so rich with details, layers to the storyline that I found myself discovering new things each time I read it. A clear storyline is family secrets, quite devastating histories long hidden. While appearing overly dark,  this book would appeal to a vast variety of readers, lending this to be a perfect book club read. I would even recommend this to young adults, who may be interested in the fantasy aspect of the book. Highly recommended.

    Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing me the opportunity to review this book.  Please be sure to check out the previous stops on this tour:

    Tuesday, May 17th: Wordsmithonia
    Wednesday, May 18th: Tina’s Book Reviews
    Thursday, May 19th: Crazy for Books
    Tuesday, May 24th: The Lost Entwife
    Wednesday, May 25th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
    Thursday, May 26th: Unabridged Chick
    Monday, May 30th: Stephanie’s Written Word
    Wednesday, June 1st: The Bodacious Pen
    Thursday, June 2nd: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
    Monday, June 6th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
    Wednesday, June 8th: In the Next Room
    Monday, June 13th: A Bookworm’s World
    Wednesday, June 15th: Rundpinne