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Simner, Janni Lee. Bones of Faerie. New York: Random House, 2009.

I met Janni Lee Simner ([personal profile] janni) at Sirens 2010, and decided to read this book because of that.

Did I mention that I would have said that I basically had no interest in faerie fiction before I started reading for Sirens? I still don't have an intrinsic interest in the subgenre, but I have read some very good books as a consequence, and this is one of them.

So. The book follows fifteen-year-old Liza, who runs away from her town of Franklin Falls, outside of what used to be St. Louis, when she begins to suspect that she is developing magic, which since the War with Faerie has been strictly forbidden in her town by her father as a survival measure. Liza's mother, in fact, has just disappeared after her father exposed her baby sister on a hill outside the town; unlike Oedipus, Rebecca didn't survive. Liza winds up making her journey in the company of her fellow townie Matthew, who has also lost family to magic, and has secrets of his own; their journey takes them to other towns and eventually to the Arch, teaching them new and sometimes horrible facts about their world and themselves along the way.

I really liked this book; I liked the fact that it mixed technology, the post-apocalyptic genre, and faeries. I liked the characters, particularly Liza and Allie (I think Allie and Karin are my favorites, actually); I liked that the narrative makes clear how easy it is to perpetuate cycles of abuse, even unwittingly, unwillingly, unintentionally, and how overcoming them is a matter of conscious work and effort. I liked how the book is an unabashed love letter to a specific place, St. Louis, which I think we can all agree does not get a lot of love from the fantasy genre. If anything, my major complaint is that it was too short; in some ways too I think readers may be forgiven for being reminded ever-so-slightly of The Hunger Games, though Liza and Katniss are, aside from their hunting skills, very different. Bones of Faerie stands on its own (though I'm looking forward to the sequel).

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