Some Kind of Fairy Tale Paperback – 14 Mar 2013
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"Here is a keenly observed tale of a family in crisis, one that mixes fantasy and psychiatry in a potent cocktail." Stephen King: The Best Books I Read in 2012, "Entertainment Weekly" "Joyce's ravishing novel is about disruption and grief, about the risks of being charmed or stolen away from what we love. Though he draws faithfully on English folklore, Joyce has clearly gone beyond book-learning and made the "crossing at twilight" to the fairy kingdom himself. His writing is enthralling, agile and effortless.""New York Times" "Graham Joyce's new novel "Some Kind of Fairy Tale" is one of the most impressive fantasy books we've read in ages.... Graham Joyce has obviously steeped himself in fairy-tale lore, and his attention to detail (and to the significance of those details) is pretty astonishing. But what really makes "Some Kind of Fairy Tale" stand head and shoulders above most other fantasy novels I've read lately is the strong focus on the characters. Joyce's slow, careful narrative style draws you in to a story that's as much a family drama as it is a magical adventure.... Joyce takes a steady, masterful approach that explores one simple story from every angle, holding it up to the light until we see the hidden images revealed by each separate facet. Joyce has written a brilliant book that will make you think about the meaning of fairytales in a new way."io9.com "Ultimately, it isn't Joyce's clever self-awareness that pushes "Fairy Tale" into the stratosphere. It's the way he weaves these twisty ideas into a straightforward, achingly resonant story of a broken man who's found his long-lost sister. His prose and dialogue, even more than usual, are carved with balance, clarity, and subtlety. As a writer, Joyce is often praised as "unsentimental." That couldn't be further from the truth. Sentiment underscores everything in "Fairy Tale," from Tara's struggle to establish her sanity to the heartsick people who loved who she was--an
A haunting modern fairy tale from the 'brilliantly original' (SUNDAY TIMES) WORLD FANTASY AWARD-winning author.See all Product description
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Family and police comb the area but find little trace of her. Over twenty years later she returns. Her brother is married with a family, her parents have aged and she still looks sixteen. She says, to her knowledge, she has been gone six months.
The story revolves around Tara and her fantastical story of what happened to her, which no one believes, her sessions with her psychiatrist and also her brother, his family and her ex boyfriend's problems, most caused either by her disappearance and/or her reappearance.
I mostly enjoyed the tale, except for the chapters where the psychiatrist is obviously writing down his thoughts on Tara's behaviour. I found that a bit tedious, but that is just me, others may find it informative.
I think the character I mainly liked was the ex boyfriend, Richie. Tara, I liked and felt sorry for but she did begin to annoy me, however, you had to remember she was just sixteen. Her brother and his family were also an interesting side issue. Tara's creepy otherworldly 'friends' were just that, creepy.
I liked the story well enough, as the four stars indicate, but I don't think I'd buy more from Graham Joyce's canon. Mainly because it is not my preferred subject matter, this being a book club read.
I have a problem. I am now convinced, having just finished Some Kind of Fairy Tale, that Graham Joyce, is the modern genius of British Fantasy. The realisation didn't impair my enjoyment of the novel (I haven't read a novel which I have enjoyed so much in ages), but it does make me envious. A green-eyed monster, looking on like Grendel in the Fens at Joyce's Heorot-hall of talent. Like I say, a problem. Putting professional envy aside, this modern exploration of the dark world of Faerie is layered with the psychological ambiguity, wit, snappy dialogue, and tense plotting which is becoming something of a trademark of Joyce.
The story is simple enough - after vanishing twenty years ago in mysterious circumstances a woman claiming to be Tara Martin turns up, to the astonishment and dismay of her parents and brother, Peter. She is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, his long-lost sister - except for one troubling detail: she hasn't apparently aged in two decades. When her inexplicable absence is finally explained it doesn't make matters easier: she claims to have been taken by 'Fairies', and has been trapped in their world for, what seemed to her, six months. The story explores the various reactions to this - shock, incredulity, anger, scepticism, acceptance - via a small cast of exquisitely drawn characters: each one a flawed lense; each one memorable and convincing, for example, Richie, the comi-tragic guitarist boyfriend of Tara whose life has been damaged, irredeemably it seems, by his girlfriend's disappearance (he became a suspect). As the pressure of this Flatland-reality dealing with this dimensional incursion builds the cracks begin to show - and the fault-lines are there from the start as the opening line suggests:
In the deepest heart of England there is a place where everything is at fault.
This is a novel with a strong sense of place, evoking the specific genius loci of Joyce's Leicestershire countryside - a territory he is making his own, through his distinctively dark glass of Magic Realism. Joyce's uncanny paradigm is grounded in the all-too-prosaic mundane, and magical events are subtlely layered to give different 'readings'. Here, Tara's abduction claim is deconstructed by a mercurial psychologist, Vivian Underwood, whose notes provide a meta-narrative on the nature of fairy tales and fabulation itself. We have entered Marina Warner-esque woods here, layered with meaning and cross-cultural references. The erudite epigraphs adds to the inter-textuality. And yet each 'authority' is challenged - every heirophantic expert has feet of clay and no paradigm is left inviolate. Borders are continually transgressed - both physical and metaphysical. The nature of truth in Joyce's universe is Morphean and wriggles out of our grasp with each accretion of detail. And yet the reader is left dazzled and sated - for the author is in command of his craft, and has created a tighly-structured and beautifully-rendered story which delivers the magic while simultaneously breaking the spell. Joyce is a literary magician of the first order.
So -into the Charity Shop box unfinished!
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I finished the book feeling like something was missing, I can't quite place what though.Read more
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