Leah R. Cutter
Fiction, YA Fantasy
DESCRIPTION: Twins Nora and Dale were too old to believe in fairies. With a domineering father and a sickly mother, who risked her life and health the day she
grabbed the kids and fled to the Oregon coast, their life is anything but a fairy tale. Then Dale found his way to a dilapidated house full of strange and marvelous
clockwork devices. Despite Nora's warnings, he took one home, his mechanic's mind unable to resist the challenge of deciphering its purpose. Little do either of them suspect that the device was created by fairies - and the cruel Queen Adele has been searching for a human with Tinker abilities to finish the last, greatest machine of her late husband, a machine that will destroy humanity's hold on the world and allow her people to rise up again. If Nora can't stop her own family from disintegrating before her eyes, what chance does she have of saving her twin brother from the clutches of the fairy queen?
REVIEW: At first glance, this looked like half a hundred other young adult fantasies on the market: twins from a broken home, a remote setting, a hidden fairy kingdom, and so forth. However, this proves to be anything but another Fluffy Bunny book. The stakes aren't just bruised elbows and hurt feelings: they are literally life and death. Queen Adele comes from the warrior class of fairies - explaining some of her ruthlessness, not to mention her struggles to hold onto her crown now that her royal-born husband is dead - but even the royals would happily kill a human child if it suited their ambitions. The dwarf Kostya, their enemy, only helps so long as it hurts the fairies: he, too, would be perfectly willing to slit the twins' throats if it thwarted Adele. Then there's the all-too-human threat of the children's father, a control-freak twisted by a terrible childhood, bound and determined to rescue his son from his "weak" wife and other corrupting influences that are destroying his family and the country. Even the twins find their bonds tested to the utmost, conflicting personalities pushed to the breaking point by the many threats around them. The story reads quickly, with blessedly few instances of characters behaving stupidly just to further the plot; they all must learn fast, if sometimes the hard way, and figure out how to solve their own problems. The ending wraps up many of the story threads, while leaving enough open for possible sequels... though the Epilogue hints that such sequels might be very grim, indeed. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised. I might have to track down more of Cutter's books, time and budget willing.
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