Showing posts with label Justine Larbalestier. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Justine Larbalestier. Show all posts

Monday, March 31, 2014

Magic's Child by Justine Larbalestier

Title: Magic's Child
Author: Justine Larbalestier
Publisher: Razor Bill
Rating: Worthy!

What better way to finish out a magical, record-setting month than by closing out the Magic or Madness trilogy?! 31 reviews in 31 days, one review per day, every single day! Take that, Bembridge scholars!

So, this novel continues and completes the Magic or Madness trilogy. Magic Or Madness is reviewed here, and Magic Lessons is reviewed here. The series follows Reason Cansino after she has 'super magic' donated to her by her ancestor Jésus Cansino. This new magic begins transforming her as it transformed him - to the point where he became effectively inhuman - not so much in his mentality or behavior, but in his very substance. Reason can now close her eyes and see the world depicted in magical form, where 'muggles' appear as black spaces and all magic appears in glorious Technicolor™, making the real world seem gray by comparison.

As if this isn't enough for a fifteen-year-old to handle, Reason is now pregnant from the one time she had sex with Danny, Jay-Tee's 18-year-old brother. Yes, he's guilty of statutory rape and no, having sex for the first time does not grant you immunity from contraception. If you are both fertile, a pregnancy can result from any sex you have, even if the guy can manage the so-called withdrawal 'method'. Trust me, there's no withdrawal that doesn’t also involve a deposit.

Given Danny's apparent womanizing, having unprotected sex was appallingly irresponsible. Reason knew no better given how naïve she is, but Danny is an irresponsible jerk, especially since he subsequently pushes Reason away (she hasn't told him he's a daddy at that point). He insists that having sex was a mistake; that this should go no further, and that they should just be friends, but that's a bit too little, and a lot too late. He evidently has no taste whatsoever in women, too boot, if he's rejecting Reason (there's a double-meaning in that!).

Talking of reason, I have to give a warm nod to Larbalestier in her putting a stress on science in this series, but she doesn’t know much about DNA, it would appear. When Reason 'fixes' Jay-Tee (as evil Jason prophesied she would), by removing her magic and thereby saving her life, she achieves this resurrection through repairing Jay-Tee's genome. It’s apparently been 'fraying', which makes no sense. All of our genomes are 'fraying' in one sense: in that the telomeres which define genes are ever shortening throughout our life, but this is normal and natural. Some scientists think that this is how we age and die, so that part made sense, but as Microsoft often claims: it’s not a defect; it's a feature. If our DNA were really fraying in the sense which Larbalestier appears to mean, we’d be pretty much dead - not just dying - or at the very least, we'd be really sick.

Larbalestier describes Jay-Tee's DNA as being based on multiples of four. Well, guess what? Everyone's DNA is based on multiples of four! Your DNA is built of, and functions via four bases: adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G) and thymine (T), so this claim of Larbalestier's makes no sense. I think it's best, when writing about stuff which you try to tie to the genome, to say as little as possible about exactly how it's supposed to work! Unless you really know your topic, that is. Also: make sure you don’t claim that these powers with which you invest your characters are blossoming from a single a magic gene. One gene rarely does big things by itself.

Having said that, I really liked this novel and felt that Larbalestier has done a good job, overall, for the series. I'm not a fan of trilogies, and I admit to having some issues with this one, but sometimes an author can make them work, and make them worth pursuing, and this is such a case. Larbalestier takes full advantage of her trans-Pacific marital relationship and bounces back and forth between Sydney, Australia and New York City USA once again in this volume. This time she makes it personal as evil Jason flies to Sydney and spirits away Reason's mentally-challenged (from refusing to use her magic) mom. Why Reason, with her enhanced powers, failed to see this coming is more of a problem than figuring out how magic-empowered Jason managed to get Sarafina away from a health-care facility, but once again, the game is afoot, and Mere and Reason travel by kitchen door to NYC.

Of course, we know how this ends - happily, but it takes some interesting twists and turns to get there. I recommend this trilogy. It's not perfect by any means, but it approaches closer to perfect than far too many trilogies these days.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Magic Lessons by Justine Larbalestier

Title: Magic Lessons
Author: Justine Larbalestier
Publisher: Razor Bill
Rating: Worthy!

Errata and clunkers:
p100 "They didn’t burn everything else, but. Just left a pile of ashes. I added some of the chicken bones. But it hasn’t been noisy or violent since then. Now it just ripples." Seriously?!

p118 "…every single person spoke completely different than her…" That's just clunky!

The "Golem" was originally banana yellow, then it's remembered as being red-brown, "the same color as it was originally"?!! Hmm?

Mere gets Jésus's magic and is able to fix her broken fingers, but when Tom gets a scrape she resorts to antiseptic and a Band-Aid®? Seriously? Clunky!

Yes! It's Justine Larbalestier month! You didn't know? This is volume 2 in the Magic or Madness series. Volume one is reviewed here. Reason Cansino is now living (if not completely comfortably) with her grandmother, referred to as Mere, but whether as in 'Nightmare' or as in 'grand-mère' remains to be seen! Mere lives in Sydney Australia. Reason still visits her mother in the psychiatric home, and lives somewhat in fear of her evil grandfather, "Jason" (or Alexander - Jason Alexander!) whom she met in volume one. Her grandfather is a magic leech - that is, he has magic, just as Reason does, but if he uses it, he sets himself up for an early death (as does Reason). If he doesn't use it, he'll become insane (as will Reason). The only solution, so he and others believe (Reason disagrees), is to use it, but to prolong your life by leeching magic from other magicians. One of these is Jay-Tee, whom Reason met when she accidentally ended up on New York City after going through the magic kitchen door in Mere's house. Another is Tom, a sweet guy Reason met when she went to live with Mere.

After a dangerous adventure on volume 1, Reason, Jay-Tee, and Tom are back with Mere, but Jay-Tee is dying, having been leeched almost dry by Jason. She has to take magic from Tom to give her a boost, which leaves him temporarily exhausted. Worse than this, someone is trying to force is way through the kitchen portal. At first they think it’s Reason's grandfather, but it turns out to be an ancient, all-but-inhuman ancestor of hers. This part of the novel was a really cool and interesting read, very well-written for the most part.

Eventually this ancestor succeeds in pulling Reason back through the door into NYC. He's extremely powerful, but he seems not to want to harm Reason, but to actually help her, although she seems to be rather slow on the uptake in that regard, as indeed she was from time to time in volume one. She ends up in the freezing cold again in her pajamas. The ancient won’t let her back through the magic door, so she ends up with Jay-Tee's estranged brother who she briefly met when she was here the last time. There seems to be some wish-fulfillment going on here, in that Larbalestier frees Reason from her nomadic existence in volume one in the Australian outback, where she owned nothing more than a backpack, and delivers her into the luxury of her grandmother's house. Even in NYC, Reason enjoys the sweet comfort of Jason's accommodations for Jay-Tee in volume one, and of Danny's luxurious apartment in volume two.

Reason decides to try and sniff-out the old man - since his horrible smell is easy for her to track - to see if she can discern what he's up to and why he's here. Why she didn’t simply ask him is unexplained. This part of the novel was not written at all well. I couldn’t figure out what Danny and Reason were supposed to have agreed they would do! Maybe it was just me because once I got past that confusing page, things made sense again. After being prevented yet again from going back through the kitchen portal, Reason discovers that the ancient stinky guy has put something inside her that helps her to track him without retching as the horrible nauseating stench he seems to trail behind him. It would seem he is trying to tell her something, but again why he doesn't simply speak - or put the information directly inside her head - is unexplained. She follows his path to a cemetery, which is evidently what he intended. Maybe his grave is there. This guy ultimately makes no sense in his behavior, serving only to be a deus ex machina plot-hole filler so... ok, I guess!

I have to ask why YA authors never depict people being killed off by their hero? Jason Blake is pure evil. He shows up to drain Reason of her magic and steals a boat-load of it. Danny renders him unconscious, yet Reason never pulls her magic back from Jason. She doesn’t even get her share back, much less drain him and end the problem right there. Instead, she runs away. That's not even remotely heroic. At some point the hero has to put an end to the evil, period. Anything else is cowardice and stupidity. Danny and Reason at one point have him at their mercy but instead of stopping things there and then, they encourage evil to continue by running away. Not smart, but it does net the author a third volume, which frankly is a bit pathetic.

No more spoilers! I finished this novel having had some issues with it, but overall I liked it and I do want to read volume three (which is just as well since I already have it to hand!). So what didn't I like (in addition to what I've already mentioned)? And why am I asking you? Larbalestier keeps tripping up her action by splitting the story up between Sydney where Jay-Tee, Mere, and Tom are, and NYC, where Danny and Reason are. That was annoying because it kept interrupting the action and larding-up the text with cheap and completely fake 'tragic' moments. I despise this 'cheap-thrill' kind of writing, so I was glad when it had to give way to a straight narrative

Eventually it reached a point at the end of the novel where Reason is no longer the student but the master (mistress? Gender tropes in YA fiction!), so I guess Larbalestier achieved her stated goal in the novel's title. I was less thrilled about going into volume three after I’d read two, than I was about going into volume two after I’d read one, but I was still on-board with this series. It’s original and interesting - if a bit too indulgent of Le Stupide in this volume. That said I rate this a worthy read and I think it’s worth exploring what Larbalestier has to say in volume three.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier

Title: Magic or Madness
Author: Justine Larbalestier
Publisher: Razorbill
Rating: WORTHY!

I fell in love with this novel right from the off, which is always a good sign as long as nothing goes south later, and it did not in this case. This is the second of Larbalestier's novels that I've read. The first was How to Ditch Your Fairy, and I rated that one a worthy read also. Is this the start of a relationship?! I have to say that this one was a bit annoying at first because the author/publisher chose to start each chapter with four or five words in a different and largely unintelligible font. There's no reason to annoy your readers like that, especially when you have so many other ways available to annoy and irritate them, but that's Big Publishing™ for you: a law unto itself.

The other thing is that there's this text divider symbol - like a sun with a smiley face in its center - employed in the text which is fine, except that it seems to appear randomly. Normally you'd use something like this to separate text in the same chapter which takes place at a somewhat later time, but in this case, these things seem to appear inexplicably at some indecipherable whim of the author's. Larbalestier seems intent in this novel upon randomly split text with these symbols, and with new chapters without much regard for the flow of what she's writing. I didn't experience this in How to Ditch Your Fairy. So this is slightly odd and somewhat frustrating, but it's not a deal buster for me.

This novel, which is the first in a trilogy (Magic or Madness, Magic Lessons, Magic’s Child), is set in Australia, so some of the lingo might be obscure. If you're a Brit, especially one like me with an interest in the Land of Oz, you can understand the bulk of it, but there's a glossary at the end of the novel for anything which proves too odd to guess at. Why the glossary is there rather than at the start is a bit of a mystery, but on to the story. Reason ("Ree") is a young Caucasian/aboriginal girl who has spent nearly all her life on the run with her mother Sarafina.

This precipitates the start of this story where Ree is forced to live with her actual legal guardian (her grandmother) because Sarafina is confined to a psychiatric facility. For her entire life, Ree's had it inculcated in her that her grandmother is an evil witch (not figuratively, but quite literally) who sacrifices animals. Ree is fearful of even talking to or looking at her grandmother Esmeralda (Mere) much less accepting anything from her in the way of food or drink. I didn't buy into this characterization at all. It seemed pretty obvious from the outset that Mere is not the "bad guy" here, and that Sarafina has been less than completely honest with her daughter. Plus: nut-job! (And there's a good reason for that, as Larbalestier reveals towards the end).

As Ree is planning escape routes from the house, much in the same way her mother did at an early age many years before, she encounters her next door neighbor, Tom, who has dreams of becoming a dress designer. Kudos to Larbalestier for not only breaking molds here, but for also not making Tom gay. The two bond quickly, because much in the same way that Ree can read people and situations, and has amazing counting skills, Tom is also gifted in evaluating his surroundings and picturing where people are in them. Whereas Ree sees things in numbers, particularly the Fibonacci numbers (a sequence you may recall from its use in The Da Vinci Code) or even your math class, Tom sees them in geometric shapes, pretty much like the designers of video games do. He pretty much tracks Ree climbing his favorite tree without even opening his eyes. He's really surprised to discover that Ree is much like himself. Yes, it would seem that Tom and Ree are going to be an item, but Larbalestier is smarter than that. At least I think she is!

Larbalestier dug herself into somewhat of a slippery hole by writing this in standard trope YA girl novel format. What’s up with that? Is it illegal to write a novel about a young girl unless it's told from first person PoV? I know it pretty much is in the US, but in Australia, too, they will clap you in irons and put you in the public stocks if you try to tell your story from third person?! No wonder they exported so many convicts to Australia from England. I’ll bet every one of them was a first person perspective novelist! Seriously, because she did this, Larbalestier has to awkwardly step out from that mode of narration into third person to describe Tom's perspective.

This problem is encountered repeatedly throughout this novel, and it's both really annoying and somewhat confusing. It's testimony to how much I liked the novel and especially Ree's strong character that I was willing to put up with this really ham-fisted way of telling this story. It screeched (yes, screeched) at me that I was reading a novel. Buh-bye suspension of disbelief; I think I can see it waving to me from that last bus out of town. Why can authors not divorce themselves from 1PoV for goodness sakes? Every novel does not have to be written that way, not even if it’s a YA novel about a girl, and not even if it’s dystopian! No, honestly! Get a grip authors for goodness sakes! Having got that out of my system, Larbalestier writes pretty well in general, if you can ignore the clunky changes in voice, and there's a lot of much-appreciated humor.

Tom's observation that "Reason did not climb like a girl" is a rather insulting and condescending claim - especially coming via a female writer. I've never know girls to be any different from boys in that regard, especially when they're Ree's age and younger. OTOH, it was Tom observing this, so perhaps we can excuse Larbalestier this time. Again, this is a problem with changing the narration voice repeatedly. That aside, Ree continues to defy not only expectations, but also her grandmother by hardly saying a word to her and by refusing to eat anything in the house. She also builds on her relationship with Tom. They visit a cemetery nearby and she discovers a disturbing trend in her family - the graves are mostly for women, and nearly all of them died young. Those who didn’t die young died in their early forties. Whatever she has, magical or not, it’s apparently some sort of curse! This is important for the ending of the novel.

Ree visits her mom in the hospital, and acting on her rather drugged-addled description finds what appears to be some confirmation, under the floor in the basement, that maybe her mom wasn't telling stretchers about grandma's witching activities and her evil mien. Pursuing her plan to escape, Ree finds a strange-looking key which apparently unlocks the back door, thereby opening up alternate escape routes. Not that she's exactly a prisoner! The problem with this key is that when she finally opens the door, she's not in Kansas, er Sydney, any more. Nope. Inside, looking out the window, it’s a hot Australian day, but using the key to pass through the doorway turns that into a freezing night in New York City! Ree has never seen snow and is at first oblivious to the chilling effect, finding everything odd and fascinating, particularly the snowflakes. It's nothing like the now familiar surroundings of Sydney.

The problem is that very soon, Ree realizes that she's wandered so far from the back door that she can no longer identify her grandmother's house amongst the cookie-cutter residences here. One would think her footprints in the snow would lead her right back there, especially if she's as smart as I’d been led to hope she is, but just as she realizes she's lost, we learn that there's someone in this new world watching her. Someone who's been waiting for Ree, expecting her to show up any time now….

The new character is Julietta, who goes by Jay-Tee, and who "works for" another person with the same abilities as Esmeralda. Even though Jay-Tee isn;t honest with Ree, the two bond, and when Jay-Tee's brother Danny shows up with some interesting news, it looks like Ree has found someone else to bond with, and maybe Tom has, in Jay-Tee. Just when you think this novel is over, with Ree safely home, she discovers something in her bedroom that shakes the delicate foundation she mistakenly thought she had under her feet at last.

I loved this story. I loved finding a resourceful, realistic, interesting, and strong female main character, and especially one who wasn't restricted to being white! I loved that naiveté is not confused with stupidity here. I loved that the novel was not forcibly set in the USA, because you know we can't possibly have an entertaining novel which isn't! I recommend this novel and I look forward to reading the two sequels.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier

Title: How to Ditch Your Fairy
Author: Justine Larbalestier
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Rating: WORTHY!

There are at least two covers for this novel. The one I depict here isn't the one on the library book that I got, but it is the best one. Finally a publisher gets it right, after totally blowing it with the other loser cover (which I now unfortunately have to carry around with me in public as I read this...!).

I got interested in Larbalestier after I'd read about the so-called YA Mafia and read the air-headed 'response' by Holly Black (fortunately for her, I've favorably reviewed three of her novels: White Cat, Red Glove, and Black Heart, so she's safe from me for now!). Larbalestier (bizarre name! It's pronounced lar-bal-est-ee-air) was mentioned in tandem with Black's and I have nothing on her, so I decided I'd better get some dirt! I'm not a fan of (literal) fairy tales, although I confess I've favorably reviewed one this year, so it's odd that I'd pick this one, but the title won me over; then the novel did, too.

This book is written in Australian, which may sound like English, but it really isn’t! Plus, Larbalestier appears to have created her own lexicon of teen terms, so it’s hard (for me at least) to know how much of this is common Australian slang and how much she just made up. Either way it’s hilarious. Here's a partial glossary:

  • Dobbing - ratting out, tattle-tale-ing
  • Doos - sweet, good, positive, pleasurable
  • Doxy - the polar opposite of doos
  • Inside her self/his self - self-obsessed, narcissistic, self-important
  • On the nose - smelly
  • Pulchritudinous, pulchy (and other variations) - gorgeous, adorable, desirable
  • Torpid - dumb

The joke in this novel is that most everyone has an invisible undetectable fairy who gives them an edge in one thing or another, but the edge you get is random and rather whimsical. Some people, for example have a fairy which grants them luck in buying doos clothes at rock-bottom prices. Another has a fairy which attracts of around her own age. There are loose-change-finding fairies and good-hair fairies. The main character of this novel, who isn't old-enough to drive, has a fairy which can find parking spaces anywhere at any time, which means she's frequently kidnapped just so others can avail themselves of her talent. This is important for what happens later, and indeed for one of her motivations in the story. I do, however, have a theory that this fairy business is all in the mind of the befuddled, and there really are no fairies in this world, just blind, gullible belief in them. What? Me, wrong? Never!

This novel is many more things than it seems on the surface. It’s a dystopian teen novel that's rather more subtle than your typical dystopian YA story. It’s a satire on being a teen and on growing up, and it’s a satire on religion, gullibility, and other blind beliefs, with some elements of Catch-22 tossed in and mixed with Frances Hardinge. It’s also a comedy and a wry commentary on hero-worship and blind micro-patriotism, with a nod-and-a-wink to Disney's Freaky Friday tossed in for good measure, except that here it’s fairy-swapping rather than person swapping.

Charlotte Adel Donna Seto Steele is a young adult named Charlie who lives in New Avalon and attends an obsessive-compulsive sports school, where discipline is beyond strict. The children who attend the school accept the discipline because discipline (although not at this wack-a-loon level!) is an integral part of sports. There are 811 infractions, each of which merits a demerit if you're caught. If you accumulate enough demerits, you’re suspended from your next game, and further infractions could lead to expulsion from the school altogether. About a fifth of the student body has been expelled for this reason. You can get demerits for running in the hallways, for being late for class, for not being early enough for an event even if you're not late for the event, for not wearing correct attire for the sport you're doing, for not wearing clean attire, for wearing on the nose attire, for kissing, for talking, and for having your tie in disarray!

When Charlie's demerit level climbs dangerously to eight, she earns her first missed game and is effectively forced into long hours of community service (cleaning up a grave yard in her case!) in order to try and wipe out the demerits. Her two besties, Sandra Leigh Petaculo, and Rochelle, stage an "intervention"! In turn, this necessitates her visiting her arch-enemy's home to meet her fairy-wise parents. Since Charlie's ambition is to rid herself of her parking fairy (that's why she walks everywhere - she believes that if the fairy - which makes Charlie smell of gasoline - becomes bored, Charlie will be rid of her). Her arch-enemy is called Stupid-Name (but is really Fiorenze Burnham-Stone). Given Fiorenze's behavior towards Charlie, this arch-enemy stuff is entirely in Charlie's head and eventually, Charlie realizes this. Fiorenze is also on community service, but we’re not told why. She works pulling weeds and collecting trash at the graveyard with Charlie and the two of them end up having their first conversation there.

Each chapter begins with Charlie's score to date, starting out merely by detailing her days spent walking rather than riding, the number of times she's talked with Steffi, aka Stefan, who is the guy she likes in school, her demerits, and her doos clothing acquisition (which is zero). This list grows somewhat, and the reported numbers change as the story progresses. Chapter 20, for example, begins:

Days Walking: 68
Demerits: 4
Conversations with Steffi: 9
Game suspensions: 1
Public service Hours: 16
Hours spent enduring Fiorenze
   Stupid name's company: 2.75
Kidnappings thwarted: 1
Number of Steffi kisses: 2
Fights with Steffi: 1

Stefan is from a different town, and so acts as a bit of an intermediary for the reader with Charlie's life and the decidedly odd society in which she lives (and I get the impression that her city is a special case, where people are rather different from all other populations). Of course, Stefan is sucked into Fiorenze's sphere of influence because of her boy-attracting fairy, so we’re told, but the lie to this is given when he and she break-up, get together, break-up in repeated cycles.

When I'd read a third of this and had decided, barring disaster, that I would be favorably reviewing this novel, I sought out a bunch of negative reviews to see if I'd missed something, and I was rather disturbed to find that the bulk of the negative reviews - where they actually said something other than a two-sentence whine that they didn't like it - just did not appear to have paid attention to what they were reading, because their reviews were way off base, complaining about things that are not in the novel at all, or that are incidental to where this novel was going. I don’t think they grasped that this isn't a novel about fairies, it’s a novel about a young teenage girl finding her way in the world and learning to stand on her own feet.

For example, one reviewer said that Charlie had no motivation other than ridding herself of her 'fairy', when it was repeatedly made clear that her life was sports, and she wanted to be a professional - that's why she was attending the sports school. Duhh! Another complained about the 'fake teen lingo' and then used some rather bizarre lingo of their own! Another review began with a whine that this book isn’t meant for adult enjoyment! Wow! I never would have thought such a thing of a novel which is clearly identified as young-adult novel! One reviewer accused Justine Larbalestier or trying to create 'British slang'. I'm sorry but if you're too torpid to grasp that Larbalestier is Australian, and this has nothing to do with British slang, then that's an automatic eight demerits and you're on the bench for the next novel!

One reviewer claimed that academics in this story write books by hand and then keep them locked away unpublished! No! The truth is that one academic (Fiorenze's mother, Tamsin, who was explicitly described as an oddball in the novel itself) wrote one book by hand and kept that locked away. If a reviewer is going to outright lie - or at best review a novel with such a poor recollection - why in hell should I pay any attention to such a review?! Another reviewer completely went overboard, accusing Larbalestier of misleading young girls by suggesting that they could change! I am not making this up. This deluded individual went on to pretty much state outright that young girls cannot change and shouldn't even try! I guess he thinks young women must stay in traditional roles and not even, for example, aspire to doing anything we manly men do! Why even bother growing up? Stay a subservient little girl, it’s all you can do! I can't even begin to (politely) describe the wrong-headedness of a clueless opinion like that. Clearly all reviews of the nature of the ones I've mentioned above can be completely disregarded. Having thus satisfied my curiosity, I moved on!

Charlie's dream of dispatching her fairy post-haste took a hit when she visited Tamsin Burnham-Stone. My own theory seemed to take a hit too, because Tamsin surrounded Charlie with mirrors and got her to see her "aura" which was a double one. Tamsin interpreted this to mean that Charlie's original parking fairy was fading, and about to be replaced by a new "proto-fairy". She advised Charlie to continue expelling the parking fairy, but also to try encouraging the new fairy by doing things to welcome it. She wouldn’t, or couldn’t, answer any of Charlie's questions, or tell her what the proto-fairy might be, or how it could be encouraged.

However, I stick to my theory! Even assuming that Tamsin could see auras and wasn't just delusional (and deluding Charlie into the bargain), this really means that what she was telling Charlie was that she's the master (mistress?!) of her own destiny - no one else. If Charlie encourages the right "fairy" (read: attitude), she can be whatever she wants. I suspected that Tamsin's locked-away book tells exactly this story, which is why she's afraid to publish it and rob people of their fairy-tales. Was I right? You'll have to read this novel to find out!

Although the first kidnap attempt upon Charlie is thwarted, the second assault succeeds. Danders Anders, the massive deranged jock grabs her and uses her to find an ace space right in front of an apartment block that he needs to visit. We have no idea why, and even less idea why Charlie doesn't report him. Given how pro-active she is on tackling her fairy issue, and how furious she is about being kidnapped (not because she's been kidnapped per se, but because she's been forced to ride in a car, thereby reactivating her all-but-dormant fairy), Charlie's behavior now is rather contradictory.

This is where this novel almost left the rails rather for me. At first blush, her acceptance of the kidnapping made no sense within Charlie's framework, although it did provide a powerful impetus for Charlie to take up the next offer she gets from Fiorenze, which is to to sneak in and take a look at her mother's hand-written book while Tamsin is away at a conference. When I thought about this a bit, I realized that it does fit within the framework, because Charlie knows full-well that she'd probably get a demerit for dobbing if she did report it. I mean how many times has she reported boys who are overly amorous towards her and got in trouble for excessive whining? So yes, this does make sense in that context.

What Charlie and Fiorenze learn is a trick using salt and incised thumbs, undertaken in darkness, which will result in them swapping their fairies, each one for the other's, but you know as well as I do that it's not going to be that easy! And that's enough spoilers. I recommend this novel.