Genre: Fantasy Age Range: MG Star Rating: 4 stars Series: yes - first book in trilogy
Tanya has a secret. She can see fairies.
But not the fairies we imagine. These fairies cast spells on her, rousing her from her sleep and propelling her out of bed. Disturbed by her daughter’s behaviour, Tanya’s mother sends her away to live with her grandmother at Elvesden Manor, a secluded countryside mansion on the outskirts of town.
Then an old photograph leads Tanya to an unsolved mystery. Fifty years ago a girl vanished in the woods, a girl Tanya’s grandmother will not speak of. Tanya is determined to find the truth, but as she unearths more secrets she finds herself dangerously close to following in the missing girl’s footsteps . .
Blurb taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
I vaguely remember reading this series as they came out – I was about the right age to be target market, maybe a tad older. I remember really enjoying them and so, having more recently read and loved her A PINCH OF MAGIC books, I was happy to stumble upon this reissue of the series (redesigned to match the PINCH books.)
This is a classic folklore fairy story brought into the modern age. These are not kind and benevolent fairies full of rainbow dust and cheering words and heroines fight villains. There are a few nice ones in the worldbuilding and (sometimes literal) woodwork, but most of the ones in this book are the villains. Either through deliberate malice or simply being a fae nature that doesn’t mesh well with humans. They are dark and tricksy, with their complicated rules and traditional wardings.
There are so many folk stories woven in to the background of this tale of a secret world alongside ours, of changelings and ill-thought out promises. And Tanya is more or less on her own, the secrets of this other world she can see fiercely guarded.
It’s very much got that spooky, unsettled feel of a very dangerous other world alongside ours, made more powerful by the fact the fairies we first meet are vicious towards Tanya. Their punishments are cruel and deliberately thought out to be personally awful rather than physically. That scene sets up the danger of the fairy world so well, as well as the unknown nature of it. Why are they doing this to her? What do the fairies want generally with the human world?
I am looking forward to picking up the next book and continuing this rediscovery.
Read my reviews of other books by Michelle Harrison:
The Thirteen Treasures (this series):