Bones of Faerie

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
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Intriguing combination of magic and apocalypse.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.


A baby is left out to die, her blood and cracked bones seen by her sister; a father beats his daughter with a belt, drawing blood; a fight with wild dogs; a wolf attacks a man, biting and breaking his arm.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there is some violence, and a baby is left out to die, her blood and cracked bones seen by her older sister.

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What's the story?

Liza has grown up in a world devastated by an all-out war years earlier against the world of Faerie, a war which left destruction and lingering effects in both worlds. In our world, like radiation, magic has imbued plants and trees with hostility to humans. Another result of this magical radiation is that some children are born with magical abilities, and in Liza's town, those children are killed as soon as this is apparent. After Liza's infant sister is killed, and her mother runs away, Liza discovers that she has visions of the past and future. Seeing her mother in those visions, and fearing what will happen when her father finds out about her ability, she too runs away, into the hostile forest.

Is it any good?

Fantasy genre fiction has a limited number of elements, so the novelty comes in how you mix them up, and the variations you introduce; this one brings some intriguing new ideas. It mixes the older form of fairy story (in which magical creatures from the fairy world were considered mischievous at best, downright wicked at worst) with the more modern post-apocalyptic novel. Set in a time when both earth and the world of Faerie have been ravaged by all-out war, and in which magic and nuclear radiation are equated, it is a potent mix of elements that have rarely been mixed before.

This unique mash-up works, for the most part, because the author sets it in motion with a bang, and never lets the story flag. But the set-up is so fascinating that readers may be frustrated by the many unanswered questions the author leaves behind. One can only hope that this is intended to be the first book of a series, though no indication of this is given. As a stand-alone work it feels unfinished: as the introduction to a series it works brilliantly. We'll have to wait to see which it is.

From the Book:
No one knew why they came. No one even knew what they looked like. The War happened too fast, and the televisions people once had for speaking to one another all died the first day. Some said the faerie folk looked like trees, with gnarled arms and peeling brown skin. Others said they were dark winged shadows, with only their clear hair and silver eyes visible as they attacked us. Hair like that remained a sure sign a child was tainted with magic.

But whatever the faerie folk looked like, everyone agreed they were monsters. Because once they were here they turned their magic against us, ordering the trees to seek human flesh and the stones to burn with deadly light. Even after the War ended and the faerie folk left this world, the magic they'd set loose lingered, killing still.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the many questions the author leaves unanswered. Why do you think humans and Faerie fought? What caused the effects seen in our world and in theirs? Why do the people in Liza's town act as they do? Was Liza's father right to be afraid of magic? Why does her mother return to Faerie?

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