March 23, 2010

Day 2 - Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter

Welcome to the second day of the CSFF Blog Tour!  This month's book is Faery Rebels:  Spell Hunter by R.J. Anderson.  If you missed yesterday's post, you can catch up by clicking here.  Today I'll be giving my personal opinions about what made this book great and what could've been improved upon.

First, here's the cover of the UK version of Faery Rebels:  Spell Hunter, called simply Knife.


Let's begin with the cover of this book.  As I mentioned yesterday, I honestly may have passed this book by on the shelf simply due to its American cover.  The main colors are green and a bright purple/fuschia.  The font of the title just screams "princess story" - which is a huge miscommunication.  However, the artwork of Knife herself is stunning. 

In my opinion, a melding of the UK cover and the American cover would have better served the content within.  Perhaps, using the blues of the UK cover and the portrait of Knife from the American version.  For comparison's sake, here's the American cover again.


I would not have guessed that these are the same book.  Two different artists interpretations of a single story.  Honestly, I can say I would have definitely picked up the UK version first.  Now that I've gotten the cosmetics issue out of the way, I can move on to the substance.

Characters
    We're first introduced to a young faery, Bryony, who one day changes her name to Knife.  She is strong, independent, and a bit mischievious.  Her desire for knowledge and truth is the driving force behind the story.  She simply refuses to blindly obey rules that don't make sense or feel right to her.  Knife is the kind of character that must discover the truth on her own. 

    Disobeying the laws of the Oak's ruler, the Faery Queen, is initially seen as a huge risk of pure curiosity, but eventually leads to several truths that prove imperative to the survival of her people.  The message is clear:  Finding truth is worth the risk.  In this case, I completely agree.  Until Knife discovers the real history of the Oak's faeries, they have no hope of surviving the Silence.

    Several wonderful supporting characters enrich this tale including Wink, Knife's adoptive mother.  In a society that doesn't ever say "thank you" because of its implications, love isn't shown in the traditional human way.  In fact, the entire community has become one of trade and keeping score.  Not even information is given freely.  They barter for everything.  However, Wink brings a warmth to Knife's life that she doesn't recognize as love initially.

    Thorn is a gruff, tough faery who is the Queen's Hunter and has several lessons for Knife, not all of them pleasant.  Her intentions aren't clear until well into the story, but reveal several aspects of her true feelings that have been hidden from most of the faeries of the Oak.

    Finally, we have Paul, Valerian, Campion, and Queen Amaryllis.  Paul is a human boy who becomes central to Knife's struggles and joy, complicating her situation.  Valerian is the Oak's healer and a kind soul with a secret past.  Campion's faery occupation is that of the only librarian in the Oak.  Her willingness to help Knife proves vital.  Amaryllis' past is clouded by mystery, thus giving the reader plenty of doubt about her motivations and loyalty.  She appears to care dearly for her fellow faeries, but Knife uncovers secrets that could mean the Queen wasn't what she appeared to be.

    Overall, through the well-developed characters the story comes alive with possibilities.  Wink's caring, Thorn's influence, and the Queen's mystery all carry Knife along on her journey.  Paul shows Knife emotions that are foreign to her, but become more important than her own life.  Knife's strength and self-sacrifice draw the reader in and keep the pages turning.

    Setting


    The Oak is Knife's home and also a type of prison.  Faeries aren't allowed outside the confines of the tree itself unless it is their profession to be a Gatherer or the Queen's Hunter.  Knife longs to fly freely, but all faeries live in fear of predators, like Old Wormwood, the crow who has been terrorizing the Oakenwyld for years.

    The House is home to a family of humans and a constant source of Knife's curiosity.

    Story

    The pacing is excellent.  Readers are taken into the realm of the Oak, as faery society and its rules are revealed through Knife's interactions and experiences.  It's a natural unfolding of the inner workings of a decidedly non-human community.  We're taken on a journey with Knife that leads to an examination of human emotions from a fresh perspective.

    R.J. Anderson's writing is stylized and pleasing.  If I hadn't known she was Canadian, I may have mistaken her for a British author.  As a fan of British literature, I thoroughly enjoyed the rich prose and quirky terminology.

    One aspect I particularly appreciated is that although R.J. Anderson is a Christian, she never pushes her beliefs onto the reader.  She is an author who is a Christian, not solely a Christian Fiction author.  The distinction is fine, but Anderson's audience is sure to be broad and appreciate her stories regardless of their religion.  As a Christian though, I love that at the end she gives praise unabashedly to God.

    ***

    Thanks for tuning in today.  Tomorrow I'll be featuring R.J. Anderson herself.  With some fun information and interviews.

    And as always, please make sure to check out what other blogs on the CSFF Blog tour are saying about Faery Rebels:  Spell Hunter by clicking the links from Day One's post - HERE.

    2 comments:

    sally apokedak said...

    Great job on looking at all aspects of the book. I enjoyed reading this post. I think you're right about the covers, too. I mean, I loved the US cover and not so much the UK cover, but what I liked was the girl on the US cover and I did love the color of the UK cover.

    The book, regardless of its cover, was excellent!

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