Fifteen-year-old Liza lives in a world that has been devastated by war, a war between humans and Faerie that nearly destroyed both worlds. When her mother gives birth to a baby that bears all the signs of faerie magic, her father does the expected thing and abandons the infant outside to die - or be taken by the faeries. Liza sneaks out of the house, hoping to save her baby sister, only to find that wild animals got there before she did. Her mother disappears shortly afterward, leaving Liza alone with her harsh, abusive father and a growing sense that she is tainted with faery power herself.
Liza does the unthinkable and runs out into the night, leaving the safety of her village behind, even though "Don't venture out after dark" has been drummed into her head ever since she could talk. It is good advice, in this post-apocalyptic world in which faery magic has spilled into unexpected places, giving plants a sentience and ferocity that make venturing into the woods a harrowing experience. Luckily Liza finds herself with a traveling companion - even though she is angry at her friend Matthew for endangering himself by leaving the village to help her. Although it seems that Matthew is hiding some secrets of his own...
I very much enjoyed this fascinating dark, post-apocalyptic fantasy. Liza's world is a dark and dangerous place, but the more she learns as she ventures into the unknown in search of her mother, the more she realizes that her own "safe" village is a very dark place as well. I found the descriptions of the pernicious flora to be very effective in creating a sense of otherworldly horror. This book certainly stands alone, plot-wise, but there will be a sequel, according to the author's website, due to be published in 2011. I am glad to hear that, because the book left me with a sense of so much left to be explored, even though Liza's story comes to a satisfying conclusion.
Click here to read a short story set in the same world as Bones of Faerie called "Invasive Species."
Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner (Random House, 2009)
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Becky's Book Reviews: "Loved this one. I mean I knew it would be good when Elizabeth Scott said it was. But still. Oh-so-good."
Fantasy Book Critic: "In the end, Janni Lee Simner's first attempt at a teen novel was a success. Despite the quick pace and the lack of details regarding magic and the war, Bones of Faerie was an engaging read."
Karin's Book Nook: "As a reader, it is easy to get attached to the characters. Liza’s visions are marked by italics for easy identification throughout the story and the language is clean which makes this appropriate for even young fantasy fans."
A Patchwork of Books: "Faeries are popping up in books all over and unfortunately, with this particular one, I was left pretty disappointed. I felt Liza was a really flat character, she was whiny at times when she didn't need to be and I had so many questions throughout the entire book that I felt went unanswered."