As a librarian, Crystalclear is always on the hunt for books in her friends’ wheelhouses, and so I got a text from her asking if I’d like to read Pay the Piper. She hadn’t loved it, but thought maybe she was just the wrong audience. Would I give it a try and an honest review?
I’m the perfect audience; faerie legends and fractured fairytales are my jam. I was really excited to read this. ::Sigh::
The book is split between chapters in the world of Faerie where we learn about our piper, Gringras and his fate, and chapters in the early 2000s with our protagonist Callie, a writer for her school’s newspaper, who’s supposed to be covering a story about the famous rock group, Brass Rat, of which Gringras is the front runner. The band is coming to her small Massachusetts town on All Hallows Eve, and while waiting to talk to the band, she overhears a conversation she shouldn’t that leads her to believe the band isn’t all that they seem.
The 2000s chapters were chock full of unnecessary details about Callie’s family and friends that have little bearing on the actual story, but the important details, like Callie’s Scottish grandma who always told her creepy faerie stories, are allusions or asides. A LOT of page space it taken up with Callie’s teenage angst on her issues with writing ‘the truth,’ and all the dialogue between the humans feels forced and prescribed.
Faerie was very well written, its characters were interesting and flawed and wonderful, and I would rather have spent the whole book there, or following Gringras on his search for redemption. The dialogue and plotting of Faerie was masterfully done, and the asides about Gringras’ half-life between earth and Faerie were so much more interesting than the actual story.
It also didn’t help that the Callie chapters legitimately read like a retelling of “Hocus Pocus,” but with faeries instead of witches. Legit, there’s even an ‘adult’ halloween party to explain why there aren’t any parents around when the kids get magicked away by Gringras’ piping. I get that there’s only so many plots one can do about child stealing, but the direct correlations were pretty indisputable.
I really wanted to like this story; it had a great premise, and the parts of the story about Faerie were exceptional. But the parts that were the actual story were not good, and I wouldn’t recommend this. Read Changeling instead.
Bingo Square: Cannonballer Says