By Sue Bentley
Jess Morgan faces many of the problems that other teenagers face. Living on a rough estate with her alcoholic mother, Alice, and Alice’s violent boyfriend isn’t much fun. Neither is feeling like she doesn’t quite fit in at school, at home, or anywhere else really. Sometimes it seems like her only friend is a homeless man, Mike, who lives in the underpass.
Meanwhile, in a very different world, Ninka, the kind hudskin, takes care of the mortal child Aerith and protects her from the wrath of the evil Catelysma. In the Faery kingdom human life is dispensable and cruelty is never far away.
We follow Jess as she becomes gradually more aware of her status as being different or ‘Other’. Why does she find the chemicals of the modern world so hard to live with? What are the strange bumps beginning to grow from her shoulders, and why does she seem to possess powers and skills that are far out of the ordinary.
When Jess’s path crosses that of young Caleb, also unhappy at home with a bullying father, the plot moves towards the mysterious Windroth, the home of eccentric artist Ivy Stark. Windroth seems to be the focus of Faery activity, although Caleb doesn’t realise that at first.
At Windroth the human world and the world of Faery collide and Jess has to decide whether to follow her destiny. She also has to work out what that means for her, for Alice, and for her growing relationship with Caleb.
There is plenty in this book to keep the reader entranced. The descriptions of Faery are vividly and convincingly done. Sue Bentley really conjures up all the different forms of life from ogres to pixies in a very original and striking way. This contrasts with the grittiness of the real world situations of Jess and Caleb and adds an extra level of interest to the story.
Jess is a really strong character and I enjoyed getting to know her and following her life-changing story. She has to deal with all sorts of issues that other girls her age will be familiar with, from difficult friendships to worrying about a vulnerable parent. But, when the demands of the Faery world are added to that, the story takes on a whole other dimension.
This is a book to really immerse yourself in. By the end you won’t be able to help feeling that you know Jess, and that you have spent time in the world of Faery yourself.
A highly recommended read for adults and young adults alike.
Thanks very much to the publishers for a review copy of this book.
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