International Writers Magazine: Young Fiction Review
by R J Anderson
Orchard Books; (Jan 2009); Pages: 320
an extraordinary tale Knife is. Created by R.J Anderson
this is a different take on Faeries at the bottom of the garden.
We humans are the strange creatures to be afraid of. These faeries
that live in an ancient oak tree are the last of their kind. Magic
has been forgotten and they live like ancient folk by hunting and
A dreadful disease
is taking them one by one called silence and though faeries
can live for hundreds of years, time is now short and only rarely is
an egg found with a faery in it.
This is Bryonys world, later to call herself Knife when she manages
to bravely steal a steel blade from the human house and become the chief
hunter. (Tracking down and killing squirrels for their meat is just
one of her many jobs.)
They have quite different rules to us. They never say 'thank you' for
example, as this would them in debt to another. These are quite lonely
isolated creatures. You feel quite sorry for Knife though she'd kill
you for thinking it, she is a very strong character.
One of Knifes earliest memories is of escaping her guardian and
meeting a young human boy Paul in the garden as he climbed their tree
and unknown to her a bond was formed between them and magic born
in the boy not her. He develops skills as an artist and an obsession
with faeries. But this is Knife's story and is her we watch grow up
and learn to challenge everything around her. We delight in her first
flight and first battle with the crows. It is no picnic being so small.
The last time I read about faeries was in Johnathan Strange
and Mr Norrel not exactly young fiction at all
but nevertheless a useful primer. Faeries it seems get a bad rap. They
arent cute, they struggle against all odds to survive, the Queen
trying to keep them together with strict rules one of which is
to never leave the tree. Knife is a rebel, hard to contain and it seems
her destiny is to meet the boy at the bottom of the garden one day.
Only it turns out he needs her more than she needs him and as she has
become an expert skilled hunter and killer of enemy crows she is needed
most of all by the clan in the tree.
This is a wonderful opening up of faery world and takes nothing for
granted turning upside down everything you thought you knew about
faeries. Well written and compelling, you want Knife to succeed, yet
know she is bringing her own kind further into danger. Who has told
the truth? The Queen? Or there is another truth in the hidden diaries
of one faery who left and returned with child (not an egg, but a real
child) and why have they lost their skills of magic? Can it ever be
restored? Knife discovers, little by little, that everything she knew
was a lie and there is a bigger wider world out there.
Recommended for any kid with a sense of wonder, but also any reader
Titled: 'Faery Rebels' in the USA and Canada - Knife (with a much better
cover in the UK) is not just for kids, youll want to steal it
back and never let it go.
North Jan 2009
Editor of hackwriters
Tide by Sam North
'Extraordinary novel about a child's psychic
Lulu Press - ISBN: 978-1-4092-0354-4
to live with his spooky Grandma by the river in Greenwich, Oliver
(12) discovers a whole world of disturbed people who are probably
even crazier than the ones he left behind. When he finds a dog with
its throat cut on the beach, everything changes.
range 12-16 and all adults
'An engaging, unusual and completely engrossing read'
- Beverly Birch author of 'Rift'
See Charlie Dickinson review of 'Mean
Young Fiction Reviews
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