Good Lord, am I glad this book is done. It was a complete slog for me. I think a lot of my disappointment comes from how promising it sounded- a Welsh teenager who talks to fairies and some kind of mystery involving black magic. It was nothing like what I expected. To briefly summarize some of things I did not like:
It was written in the format of a daily journal kept by the 15 year old protagonist, and it begins after all the real black magic & the death of her twin (this is revealed in the first few pages, so I don’t think this is a spoiler) have already happened and she’s sent away to an extremely dull boarding school where she catalogs every dull thing that happens to her. Which aren’t even really cruel or juicy boarding school type stories, just some girls call her Commie and she has a hard time making friends and the weather and food are bad.
The book was supposed to be set in the 1970’s, and perhaps if I were British there would be more clues to make me believe this, but as it was, I kept forgetting it was supposed to be taking place in 1979 (despite there being a date at the top of every jounral entry.)
I guess this would be interesting as well if I had any knowledge of science fiction. In fact, I would suggest that as a prerequisite for reading this novel. Know every major SciFi author who published by 1980 and every book they wrote if you expect to understand half of what the main character is talking about.
I did not think the narrator sounded like she was 15 years old. I did not think she sounded anywhere near upset enough about it being less than a year since her mother tried to end the world with black magic, her twin was killed as a result of them trying to stop her, she herself was crippled, her mom made her grandfather have a stroke, she had to run away from home and social services placed her with her previously unknown father, who carted her away to boarding school. Maybe that’s supposed to be the British stiff upper lip? I don’t know. It did not work for me.
None of the characters in this came to life for me. None of their relationships were compelling. None of the magic was very interesting. There were a few paragraphs in which the narrator contemplates what the true defintion of magic is and that was vaguely interesting, although nothing new. All the action that might have actually been an interesting story had already happened prior to the start of this book. Gah.
I’m sorry I don’t have more good things to say about it, truly I am, especially for the first book of the year. I hope other people enjoy it and I didn’t think it was completely godawful. Really.
Recommended for: British people who have read a lot of Science Fiction published before 1980 and who felt like they didn’t fit in during high school.