The prologue to this seemed familiar, but I kept reading since I’d been encouraged to try out this lighter novel after not enjoying Walton’s “The Republic” very much. Turns out that I’d read it in 2012, oops. But that was long enough ago that the details were fuzzy and I enjoyed the re-read.
It’s a fantasy story, strongly grounded in the real world of Wales and England in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s, telling what happens to a hero after she’s saved the world, how she lives with the consequences and guards against renewed attacks. The big bad back then was Morwenna’s mother, trying to gain control of all the fairies, and Mori’s twin sister Morganna died in the fight, while Mori was crippled. She was able to escape her mother by running away, but she’s plucked out of the system and sent to live with her estranged father in England. His three sisters don’t care to have a teenaged girl around, so she’s sent to boarding school. There, coming in late to the cliques and rivalries, unable to do sports as she can barely walk with a cane, she tries to scare people into leaving her alone by saying her mother is a witch. She’s very isolated by this, tentatively teaming up with the other outcasts, but mostly content to hide away in the library and read, buy books from the town book store and read, borrow books from her father and read, and utterly take advantage of interlibrary loan and read.
I’ve added quite a few books to my to-read list while reading this novel – I’d also spent a huge portion of my teens reading through my small town library’s science fiction and fantasy section in alphabetical order (though I didn’t *quite* finish it), taking out the maximum number of books (after getting my parent’s permission to be allowed into the adult section where they hid the sf/f) and returning them one or two days later to get more. I was doing this in the mid to late 80s, so I’d read a lot of the same books she talked about (and had to smile at her discovery of Pern and her disdain for Piers Anthony (I wasn’t so discerning about the latter when I first encountered him)). I need to read a lot more (any) Delaney, Zelazny, and Triptree ASAP. This book reminded me a bit of reading Judy Blume, in that it’s frank about sexuality, and I liked how matter of fact Mori was about events as they transpired – granted, a lot of that was immediately followed by hiding from reality in the comfort of books. I did like how the magic was mostly background, Mori can see fairies all the time but she swears off of doing magic except to avoid harm, not for personal gain, after she fears a spell she did forced some other SF/F fans to like her.
I definitely saw a lot of myself in Mori, and it was a total nostalgia trip to revisit a lot of classic books with her, but I also really appreciated the real world consequences that were explored after the end of a fantasy adventure (and yes, the Scouring of the Shire is mentioned).