mrstotten (mrstotten) wrote in bookish,

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Knife by R J Anderson

Title: Knife in the UK/Faery Rebels-Spell Hunter in the US
Author: R J Anderson
Genre: Contemporary fantasy, children's, fiction
Pages: 318
Copyright Date: 2009
First Line: "I only want to go out for a little, little while, the faery child pleaded."
Cover: Beautiful UK cover by Brian Froud, with a silvery blue, faery on the front./US Cover by Melanie Delon, with blonde faery girl peeking out of oak tree
Best part: Knifes second meeting with Paul learning about the world and art
Recommended for: YA Fans, lovers of Fairy tales

Summary : There are humans at the bottom of the garden, and a glimpse inside their forbidden House convinces
the fierce young faery known as Knife that they have knowledge that could help her dying people.

But if the human world has so much to offer, why is the faery Queen determined to keep her people away from it?
Is there a connection between the House and the faeries' loss of magic?
And why is Knife so drawn to the young Paul McCormick — that strangest of creatures, a human male?

I found this book, through the Debut 2009 comnunity, and loved some of the author's earlier online work so decided to order this.


After receiving my copy of Knife yesterday morning from Amazon,  I sat down with the book after dinner last night with the intention of reading a couple of chapters and I found myself engrossed.

This book at its core is a very traditional fairytale.  It is based around the ultimate story of fairies at the bottom of the garden, but with one noticeable difference.  All of the fairies are trapped in the oak tree at the bottom of the garden.   Forbidden by Royal Decree to go outside,  they have no contact with anyone but each other, and even that is dismal, due to the fact that they very rarely relate to each other except in terms of bargaining for food, water etc.  Only the bravest and the boldest are allowed out for brief forages to gather and hunt for food and it is in this world, we meet Young Bryony.  A fairy child desperate for adventure and excitement and a longing to see what the outside world holds, this longing is intensified, by an electric meeting with a young human boy she accidently runs into on her first (and only as a child) forage into the outside world.  As an adult, Bryony is granted her deepest wish and is assigned as the Queen’s hunter, free to go and roam outside for food etc, but this introduction to the human world only opens up new curiosities for Bryony, as does her re-acquaintance with Paul, the human she met so many years ago.

From the begining my attention was captured by the main character Bryony, her curiosity and dare, alongside her pragmatic nature are enchanting.  In a world made of fairies, you would expect everything to be light, magical, coming along the lines of tinkerbell and the like.  Bryony lives in no such world.  She is the youngest member (and the only child) of a clan of fairies who lost their magic long ago and who’s numbers are dwindling due to animal attacks and a horrible illness known only as ‘The Silence’. 

In the wrong hands this book from its beginning could be almost dismal, but in this authors hands it turns out quite the opposite.  Bryony (Later rechristened Knife) is an adventurous, brave, curious questioning heroine, who never manages to accept any answer given without another rendition of “Why, How, Where, When”,  her curiosity as such reminds me of children when they are learning about the world which is fitting because through this book that is exactly what Knife does.

It s very rare to find a heroine you can fall in love with, but Bryony is most definitely one you could.  Although I loved all the positive aspects of her character, she is far from faultless, stubborn, bad tempered, selfish in her own way and very reluctant to show her feelings to those who care about her (in fact she understands so little about feeling she doesn’t even realise when people do care for her) she is the type of person who without her redeeming features could be unlikable.  Thankfully, this little fairies redeeming features more than make up for the bad, her absolute determination to do what is right by her people and her unwavering quest for knowledge, along with her bravery and wonderful view on the world and it’s people (fairy and human alike) made me fall in love with her.  She begins in a cloistered world with few answers, and through questioning, hunting, seeking, devouring books, she comes up with as many questions as the answers she finds and so begins a quest for yet more new answers, never ending in her determination to make things right.  It’s hard to go into too many aspects without giving away the plot, so I’ll leave it at that for knife.  Although not featuring too heavily some of the others characters were also delightful, Wink in particular, won my heart, and almost broke it with her words near the end (you’ll understand when you read the book) and I loved Paul and Thorn.

As a fan of mysteries, the story itself had me hooked with a million unanswered questions.  What is ‘The Silence’? How did the fairies lose their magic? What if anything does the enigmatic Queen know about all of this? What is the tie between the illness and the humans?  All of these questions keep you entranced with the novel as each chapter unravels a little more of the mystery.

R J Anderson writing style is also a pleasure.  Her writing style is very descriptive and the imagery is wonderful, full of descriptive detail without being overly descriptive, I found her world, very easy to imagine (and very hard to leave).  Her chapters are fairly short (15 pages each on average) and usually end with a minor cliff-hanger, making it impossible to put the book down until you have read the next.  So it is a very easy book to engage with, but an almost impossible one to put down.

Of course, with every book, there can always be something you didn’t enjoy as much.  If I had any fault to pick with this book it would be the almost too quick resolution.  The story did keep a fairly fast pace all the way through, but the ending seemed very slightly rushed, but that may be because I really didn’t want the book to end but it did leave me wanting more, I guess finality.  Although having said that there is a line in the last page that literally had me in a fit of giggles, which made me a little less sad to see the end,

All in this was a delightful book, with wonderful characters, beautiful images, and a compelling story.  It is without a doubt  going on the kids bedtime reading pile now that I have finished, and I’m sure when I re-read it I will find more and more things to fall in love with.

Tags: category: young adult, genre: fantasy, genre: fiction, xxx author last name: a-h

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