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Bones of Faerie

Cover: 'Bones of Faerie'

Staff Review: "Bones of Faerie" by Janni Lee Simner


Folklore and post-apocalyptic fiction collide in "Bones of Faerie," a young adult novel by Janni Lee Simner.

Liza is a teenage girl who lives in a world greatly affected by a war that took place several years before she was born. This war was between the world as we know it and Faerie, a realm where magic is commonplace and nature supersedes technology as a rule. The results were cataclysmic for both sides, and what's left of humanity is found in isolated villages, wholly dependent on hunting and agriculture to survive. What's worse, Faerie magic used in the war has corrupted the environment (akin to nuclear fallout, only with more bizarre results), including crops that cry out when harvested, rocks that burn to the touch and trees that will attack and kill.

Surrounded by such malevolent magic, it is a daily task to keep the village free from its influence. This includes its affects on children born since the war, some of whom are born with potentially dangerous magic abilities and are expelled from the village. Such was the case with Liza's baby sister, who, born with transparent hair, was abandoned by Liza's father on a hillside to die.

This event triggers a chain reaction: Liza's mother, stricken with grief, abandons the village. Liza becomes obsessed with the idea that she also might develop magical abilities and runs away to what she thinks is certain death in the forest. What she finds, however, are friends who swiftly divert Liza from a destructive path to a quest for truth and revelations about herself, her generation and how the world has changed.

This is Simner's first story intended for young adults, having previously written only for children. The tale itself is very well-written, and the plot makes for a quick read with very little downtime. The prose is simplistic, but still manages to convey a rich array of images and emotions throughout the work. The themes and events in this story might be considered "dark," but not gruesomely so. There also are plenty of the usual "liberation from adult tyranny" themes at work, but nothing overtly subversive. (Parents, rest assured, "tyranny" is really tyranny in this case.)

My one complaint is that, since the story is told entirely from Liza's viewpoint, the reader's understanding of events, the past war and the true nature of her world starts out rudimentary, biased and inexact, and ends with Liza just beginning to comprehend the world in which she lives. I would have appreciated other perspectives through which to experience this world.

Overall, "Bones of Faerie" is a fine book for young readers age 12 and older (subject to parental discretion, of course).

Audience: children, teens, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

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