Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter
by R. J. Anderson
Product Description from Amazon.com: Deep inside the great Oak lies a dying faery realm, bursting with secrets instead of magic. Long ago the faeries mysteriously lost their magic. Robbed of their powers, they have become selfish and dull-witted. Now their numbers are dwindling and their very survival is at stake.
Only one young faery—Knife—is determined to find out where her people's magic has gone and try to get it back. Unlike her sisters, Knife is fierce and independent. She's not afraid of anything—not the vicious crows, the strict Faery Queen, or the fascinating humans living nearby. But when Knife disobeys the Faery Queen and befriends a human named Paul, her quest becomes more dangerous than she realizes. Can Knife trust Paul to help, or has she brought the faeries even closer to the brink of destruction?
The fairies living in the Oak are not the delicate, gentle creatures of Victorian legend. Their existence is a rather harsh one. Amaryllis, the Queen, is the only fairy with any magic left, and her word is law. I liked this darker take on the world of fairy, especially as each fairy struggles to prevent the community’s collective slide backwards. For example, Wink the seamstress can no longer make new clothes – she lost the talent and creativity to do so when the magic disappeared – so she must repair and protect the few garments remaining from the glory days of fairy civilization. The keeper of books preserves old texts, but cannot write new ones. The walls of the Oak are hung with beautiful tapestries that none of the fairies can replicate, or even adequately repair should they tear. It’s such a tragic, sad life.
The narrative rolled along quite smoothly for most of the book, although toward the end some of the Big Reveal moments seemed hastily thrown together. Knife’s friendship with Paul really helps explore the muse/artist relationship that is often associated with fairies, but in this case it seems to be mutual. While having a fairy around certainly helps Paul’s art and attitude improve after he suffers a crippling accident, it’s seeing Paul’s effect on Knife that’s really the heart of the book. Her exposure to human emotions translates back to the fairy community, allowing her to appreciate those close to her as family for the first time in her life. It also awakens her mind to new talents, completely reversing the muse/artist roles. Pretty neat.
This book was written for a young preteen/teen audience. It's a nice read, but simple enough in narrative and character development that I don't think adult readers would like it as much.
R. J. Anderson leaves the possibilities for a sequel wide open; judging from the title and the way the book is packaged, I would guess that other books will follow if this one does well.