4 out of 5
I love fairies. Even though fairies aren’t really lovable. I mean, Tinkerbell has taught a lot of people the wrong thing about the fair folk. But, I still love fairyland. I am always intrigued at reading a new authors take on the Daoine Sidhe – which means something somewhere between “people of the fairy mound” or “people of the mounds” – the idea being that fairyland is underground. FYI: it’s pronounced doon-ya shee or doyn-ya shee, depending on which guy from Ireland you want to believe. Here is where I got the pronunciation for this review PRONUNCIATION (but I’m familiar with this word from reading all of Seanan Mcguire’s books. And generally being obsessed with fairies 🙂 )
In this story, the people of Ireland exiled the fae underground centuries ago, and now the fae have found a way to curse them. Some 20 years before the start of the events in this book, Ireland was cut off from the outside world and surrounded by mist. Anyone trying to leave, like planes, cars, etc., died. And now the children get the call. They disappear, and reappear in fairyland. The call in our time only lasts 3 minutes 4 seconds, but in the Grey Land, which is what they call where the fae live, it lasts one day. During that time, they are hunted, and if they are caught, the fae will have their “fun” – no it’s not scrolling the internet and watching Netflix. At the end of the call, whatever is left of them, is returned. Only 1 in 10 survive.
We meet Nessa who has so fair been protected from the truth of what is going on. She got polio and her legs were affected, restricting her movement and making it very painful. Meaning, when she gets the call, her chances of surviving are not good. Many parents would have had her euthanized, and some people think that anyone not physically fit should be. Most people look at her with pity, which she loathes. Nessa is determined to survive.
As far as representation goes, obviously, as have a main character with a disability. There are several gay characters mentioned. One characters father is Nigerian. There are a few Asian names. But most of the characters are white or their ethnicity isn’t mentioned.
I loved the way the story unfolded, giving us the backstory in a way that was gripping and didn’t feel info dumpy at all. It also draws you through the story because you wanna figure out just what the heck is going on. I also loved Nessa’s teeth-grinding determination. Her whole life is dedicated to surviving. She learns the fae language, which is apparently what Irish is but apparently that had been forgotten. She shaves her head so no one can get a handhold. She denies herself love and affection to keep everyone at arm’s length so she won’t be hurt when they don’t survive their call. And she hates it when she is forced to make concessions because of her disability. Please understand that I am able bodied, I can’t speak for someone who would know better – but I thought her disability was handled well. She was pitied by some people, she was forced to make concessions, there were people who bullied, even people who thought she didn’t deserve to live or take resources from able-bodied people. That’s horrible- but it was shown to be awful. The Ireland of this time has lost a lot of its compassion, but there are still people who are decent, and though euthanasia of disabled children happens, it’s not like the government forces people to do it. Yes, I just typed that sentence. But this is a dystopia.
I thought this was going to be a single POV story, but it wasn’t – and I’m glad it wasn’t. We would have missed out on so much. We see a lot of the characters experience their call. The fae are terrifying. Well, like a really happy clown is terrifying. They delight is destruction, fear, and laugh the whole time they hunt you down. They even laugh when you kill them. Their tortures are just… ugh. I shuddered a lot reading this. In order to fight this, the humans are trying to train their children to survive – and sometimes, that creates some brutal children.
I thought this was well paced, there were lots of layers of mystery, the characters were really well developed and there was a lot of good layers of plot. There was danger from within the school as well as without. The worldbuilding was really good. I don’t want to say too much, because there is so much to discover in this. I thought it was a standalone, but come on, that never happens. I’m looking forward to the next.