From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner

Review by Cynthia Ward

Humanity won the war with Faerie, but it’s difficult to tell. People have been reduced to living in isolated villages, and the plants are alive in a way they weren’t before. Crops resist the harvest, flowers bite, trees kill. Sometimes even humans are affected by the residue of the magical war: born with the colorless hair and dangerous powers of Faerie. The only way for fifteen-year-old Liza’s village to survive this deadly new world lies, it seems, in strict obedience to the brutal rules laid down by her brutal father—even if that means his newborn daughter, Liza’s baby sister with the telltale transparent hair, must die.

Then Liza’s mother vanishes, and Liza starts having visions. Condemned by the rules of her village, Liza chooses the inevitable doom of the forest. But she is followed into the woods by a village boy, Matthew, who has his own hidden power. They are both rescued from death by a stranger, a woman from a village with secrets of its own.

Liza’s journey isn’t over, however. Seeking to solve the mystery of her mother’s disappearance, she travels with Matthew and her sister’s ghost to the devastated ruins of St. Louis. There, drawn by the voice of Liza’s mother, they step into the post-apocalyptic homeland of humanity’s foe: Faerie.

Janni Lee Simner makes an impressive debut with her first novel for young adults, Bones of Faerie. With graceful prose, primal tragedy, and a rigorous avoidance of the teen angst that makes so many recent YA protagonists so insufferably self-absorbed, Simner brings her complex characters quietly, yet vividly, to life. Through fortuitous timing, Bones of Faerie combines a pair of hot trends: YA fairy novels and post-apocalyptic YA fiction. But even when the trends ebb, Bones of Faerie should continue to win new readers, on the strength of its own considerable merits.

Bones of Faerie
Janni Lee Simner
Random House
ISBN: 978-0-375-84565-9
256 pages | Trade Paperback | $9.99

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