Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Knife - R J Anderson

Starting out as a child’s adventure fairy tale, this book morphs half way through into a romance. It does this without straying from the plot because the development of an emotional life, the development of regard for others no matter what one’s own situation, are major themes of the book.

A closed community of fairies is slowly dying. Amongst their number is one who, through a throwing off of convention, reaches out to provide them with hope for the future. This venture is not without personal cost, which is where the conflict and tension of the story arises.

Any book that depicts fairies treads both a well-worn path and faces the danger not just of cliché but of continuing an image of fairies much corrupted by the Victorians. This book is clearly well aware of that for it contains reference to this. There is talk of an artist who seems to be based on Richard Dadd (with, perhaps, a touch of Richard Doyle thrown in). And whilst the fairies are diminutive, they are by no means twee.

The world of the fairies is well-realised, yet we are spared any explanations beyond those that forward the story. This spares us from long expositions and explanations whilst setting a story in a believably otherworldly fashion.

If you are looking for an intriguing tale that young and old alike can appreciate and which is rooted in genuine fairy tradition, you could do a lot worse than this.