Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter by R.J.Anderson, a Review
Published 2009 by HarperCollins, 329 pages
Genre: Fairy fantasy, middle grade, appealing to girls. Underlying plot is a whodunit, with romantic overtones. This work, a bestseller in Britain, is not overtly Christian.
A faery child, Bryony, is part of a colony of faeries (seven-inch-tall, winged creatures, all female) living in an oak tree in England.
One day the child Bryony impetuously breaks the rules and climbs out of the tree trunk. She comes face to face with a human child, an encounter neither ever forgets.
The problem is that the faery colony is slowly dying. Only the queen of the colony still has magic. A wasting sickness has taken some members. The queen is valiantly doing what she can to preserve it. Or is she? What happened to the magic, anyway?
Bryony grows up and takes a new name: Knife. She becomes the colony’s Hunter, fearlessly flying abroad to capture small animals for the colony to eat, dodging attacks by crows and foxes. She also spies on the family in the house not far away.
Her story entwines with that of Paul, the boy she encountered in the tree. What will be the result? And will the colony be saved?
What do I think? I think this story is very well written. The characters are fully realized and believable. Knife is a very feisty protagonist, fearless although all her peers are fearful.
The whodunit is well conceived and carried out. We wonder who broke the magic for the faery colony and why through most of the book. There are various red herrings laid before us. Finally there is an answer.
The friendship/ love story between Paul and Knife is less defined. It could be because this book is intended for middle grade, not young adult. We don’t see that obsession with each other that characterizes most love stories for teens and up. But we don’t need that either.
And the Christian foundation? It’s there–the faeries invoke the Great Gardener on occasion, but they never discuss their relationship to him, nor do they depend on him or ask him for help. I know RJ Aderson is a Christian, so I would love to see this more developed in a sequel. I also expect the sequel to address the question of how to fix the faery colony’s magic, now that we know why it is broken.
This is a very good book, with great characters, hard to put down. I’ll be looking forward to reading more in this series.–Phyllis Wheeler