Review of BONES OF FAERIE by JANNI LEE SIMNER
A lot of praising adjectives float through my head when I think of this book, but I find myself settling on “balanced.” While that might not be the most exciting choice, every time I pick a different word, I notice how the story also possesses the reverse. For example, I found myself tempted to describe this as a simple tale. In ways, it is, clearly drawing from much, much older stories about the fey. Yet that feels dismissive of the complexities of emotions and relationships found in these pages. I also want to say the story is dark. True, very true, but as many books prove and this one is no exception, sometimes the strongest lights are found in the darkest shadows and despite the grimness of its premise, this story clutches tight to hope.
Simner approaches faeries from an angle I, for one, have never read before. This is a post-apocalyptic faerie story! After a mysterious great war between mortals and faeries, the world is left in tatters, littered with remains of dark magic such as trees taught to seek out human flesh. While mortals appear to have won this war (as much as a war can be won), an understandable fear and prejudice of magic remains, especially troublesome for those mortals who find themselves cursed with traces of faerie magic.
The tale is beautifully written with an easy flow that invites the reader into this world. While I found many characters to love, the protagonist Liza lingers with me. Her troubles are many and of both fantastical and mundane molds. I mean mundane in the earthly sense, as in some of Liza’s troubles are painfully real even with all the fantasy of the story stripped away.
Due to both the book’s shorter length and the natural voice, this is a quick read, but one that left a lasting impression. I’m a sucker for deceptively simple fantasy tales where the magical element doesn’t beat you over the head, but tantalizes the imagination, not to mention stories with a subdued, sometimes tragic, sense of mystery and wonder that echoes out of the book into the real world.