Monday, October 26, 2009
The twilight deepened. The darker it grew, the more solid the stalking figures became, keeping pace with them in the edge of the trees. The disembodied voice spoke again, "Vaethyr. Virgin." Rose caught a sharp breath. She was trying to convince herself she wasn't afraid but her hands were clammy, her heart tripping. The shadow shapes flowed into their path, charcoal on slate grey. A low, menacing voice came from all around them. "You cannot come her unbranded." Encircled by dark, wavering specters, they halted. "This is not looking good," said Sam, clasping Heather firmly as he turned to Rosie and Faith. "We're going to run like hell, back the way we came. Ready?" Then he gave a sharp cry. It was over before Rosie could react. He jerked as if shot and tumbled backwards, an arrow shaft sticking from his collarbone, the shrieking on top of him. She saw a pair of golden eyes staring at her, a transparent winged form sketched on the darkness, a glowing arrow poised in some kind of crossbow. A split second later she felt the elf-shot; a stabbing fiery pain in her ribs. Her sight and hearing vanished in a rush of stars. Through the fog, she was aware of Faith trying to wrestle Heather from Sam until she, too, convulsed and fell. There was a moment of incomprehension, What the hell? No-- this can't be happening-- not now...but pain dragged her down, across Sam's fallen body, into an ocean of shadows. ~Excerpt from Elfland by Freda Warrington From Greek mythology to Grimm's fairy tales, people have been fascinated by the idea of worlds that exists beside our own. In Freda Warrington's "Elfland" the world of the fae lives alongside, and overlapping, the human world and Aetherials can tap into their realm anywhere; though they can only fully enter the Spiral through the Great Gateways. The Gateways have always been guarded by a single guardian appointed by the Spiral Council. Lawrence Wilder, the current guardian, has sealed the gateway from the Vaethyr, the fae who choose to live outside the Spiral, claiming a demon seeks to come through the portal and destroy both worlds. The earthbound fae are left wondering if Lawrence really senses danger or is the victim of paranoia and grow increasingly restless as they are cut off from their true home. Rosie Fox has grown up always knowing she's different though she has never entered the Gateway to the Aetherial world. Growing up as a neighbor to the dark Wilder family, Rosie has always had a love/hate relationship with Lawrence Wilder's sons. Jon, the dreamy one, has always been the perfect childhood crush; while Sam, the known troublemaker, has revealed surprising feelings for Rosie. "Elfland" is so many things that it is hard to describe in a short review. It would be easy to say that it's a book about relationships, but that would sell the complexity of the story short. There are many relationships that weave their way through the book, primarily between the Fox and Wilder families. But the magic of the Aetherial realm also threads its way throughout, giving the book a strong sense of the uncanny-- in a good way. Rosie Fox is the center of the story and we follow her life through her early loves and later tragedies. Because she straddles two worlds, one she cannot enter, Rosie tries to reconcile her dual nature by approaching everything from a logical point of view. Casting aside what she feels are childish dreams, Rosie tries to settle into a human life, but finds that existence lacks the passion of her true nature. "Elfland" is the first book by prolific British author Warrington to be released int the U.S. and I have no doubt she will find a huge following. Her writing is so engrossing that I immediately felt connected to the characters. She's wonderfully subtle when incorporating the magical elements. There are moments that ever-so-lightly remind the reader of everything from Hansel and Gretel to Orpheus, but the intelligence of the reader is never insulted and we're allowed to connect the dots on our own-- and I love that. Perhaps the happy endings are a little too pat, but the overall theme of redemption makes "Elfland" a very satisfying and altogether lovely book.