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4.2 out of 5 stars
130
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 8 March 2017
I loved this book. I REALLY loved this book! I admit, I didn't tji k I would after reading the blurb on the back. I fact if it hadn't been my book group tome, I'd've put it aside. I'm so pleased I didn't; I REALLY LOVED THIS BOOK!
From the very first paragraph, I was drawn in. This bizarre tale told in a way that was at once ridiculous yet utterly believable. The descriptions of 'there' so intriguing, with its new colours and different sounds. Then we were back reality with family life and all the chaos that comes with that. In fact, some of my favourite parts of this book were in Peter and Gen's ramshakle forge with their boisterous kids. And not forgetting the acned boyfriend of Zoe.
I loved all of them, from Tara, to Heiro, to Jack to Dell and Mary. I felt like I was watching the tale unfold in front of my eyes. I almost could talk to the characters, if I was just brave enough. I will miss this book; I will miss the people in it. I just wish the unanswered questions would be resolved in a follow up novel
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on 23 May 2013
Have read a lot of fairytale/paranormal romance books at the grand old age of 38 but have to say a lot of them are cringe worthily simple in their writing style - i was reading better written books as a child! My favourites in the last few years have been melissa marr and holly black and i was despairing of ever finding a good read again after reading a lot of generally lacklustre books of this type of genre recently until i found this one! I don't want to give too much away but what appealed to me about the story is that it is set in the present day but has a traditional fairy tale love theme. It centres around a teenager who has been missing for 20 years - presumed dead by her family but turns up only to tell them this amazing tale of having been seduced away to live with the fairies with her believing that only 6 months has passed. The story deals with some quite adult themes and is well written and flows beautifully - skipping between her narrative of her experience (as she tells it to a psychiatrist) and how she and her family attempt to rebuild their relationship and how she copes in a world that is 20 years on from where she left it. You will not be disappointed and i will definitely be looking for more books by this author.
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VINE VOICEon 9 January 2014
This is the story of Tara. At the age of sixteen she disappears.
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.
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on 29 March 2017
There's a well known folk tale about a person who is spirited away to a faery realm and returns to find that many years have passed. Graham Joyce brilliantly re-imagines this tale in the modern world. Tara has returned after a 20 year absence but only seems to have aged a few months. Did she really cross over to a mystical world? Or is she suffering from a delusional illness? A beautifully written and poignant book.
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on 26 June 2017
A good strong story line throughout. Not the kind of ending as I thought but then again....why not?
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on 5 March 2015
This book is magical and cleverly written.
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on 19 November 2013
Some Kind of Fairy Tale
Graham Joyce

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.

Kevan Manwaring
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on 1 February 2014
I find the hopping between third person and first person narrative confusing. Also, it is taking a long time to get to the point and I am not engaged enough to read on to find out what happened.
So -into the Charity Shop box unfinished!
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on 2 January 2013
**Minor Spoilers Implied**

Some Kind of Fairy Tale borrows liberally from British folk tales relating to the disappearance of young women, apparently taken by the fairies. In this instance the abductee, Tara, returns twenty years later, although she claims (and her appearance would suggest) that for her only six months have passed. Thereafter, the novel flits between Tara's fantastical tale, attempts to rationalise her experiences through psychiatry and the stories of those left behind.

Joyce digs deep into British mythology for his story, a fact underlined by the literary quotes and the reports of real-life encounters with the mystic that precede each chapter. The fairies of this tale owe less to Disney and more to A Midsummer Night's Dream. They're earthy, lusty free spirits with radical knowledge of physics but an unusual approach to ethics. This kind of folklore is fascinating and Joyce manages to capture some of this in a largely entertaining story with a genuinely poetic bent.

The tension between the fantastic and the mundane provide plenty of opportunity for Joyce to challenge the way in which our society works. His themes question the moral judgements that we all make in relationships, child rearing and the imposition of authority. Consequently, this is a charismatic book that is -on the whole- pretty engaging. I do, however, have gripes.

Around the core mystery, Joyce builds a series of thematically related plots. Some are very pertinent to the core narrative whilst others seem far more tangential. In particular, the strained relationship between Tara's adolescent nephew and his elderly neighbour falls into the second category. Some of the plot strands of the latter type don't resolve into the core plot or themes until very late in the novel. Given this, there are sections of the novel that drag being relatively unexciting unto themselves and apparently inconsequential overall. In fact, pace in general is a problem; the book is slow to start and then concludes very quickly.

The same divergence exists amongst the characters. Some are charming and easy to sympathise with (the ex-boyfriend whose life was put on hold by Tara's disappearance) whilst others are rather dull, feeling like cogs in the plot rather than properly realised characters. The main character, Tara, however, seems wilfully irritating. Admittedly, she is meant to be a sixteen year old, so should be expected to be headstrong and temperamental but this does not necessarily make her likeable. Perhaps we are meant to observe how her time away has changed her but I found her sometimes smug and, on at least one occasion, wantonly vengeful. For me, this left me unmoved by some of the major plot developments when asked to sympathise with her.

Finally, the text never gives a definitive answer as to whether the fae are real or an aspect of Tara's psychosis but it is pretty clear from early on where the author's preference lies. The lack of credence given to one side of the argument actually served to diminish some of the dramatic tension, making the core mystery somewhat redundant.

This is an interesting read that that is clearly well researched, constructed of delicate language and often entertaining. Too often, however, I was distracted by structural decisions made by the author that pulled me out of the text.
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on 7 July 2012
I really enjoyed this book. I read it quickly to see what happened - the ending was very satisfying, but left things just teasingly not quite resolved, and I shall read it again, more slowly to enjoy it thoroughly. It is the story of an abduction into the Other World which is sometimes called Tir na n'Og, the Country of the Young, sometimes Elfland, sometimes Fairyland, and sometimes the land of the dead...or, is it? Can Tara's version of what happened during her twenty year absence be an elaborate fiction she has constructed because she cannot face the terrible memory of whatever happened to her in the bluebell woods (or was she really murdered, and does she return as a ghost a Christmas 'about the Hallow days of Yule'?) The story is full of ambiguity, as you might expect from its very ambiguous subject and even at the end you are not quite sure...

I liked the quotations at the head of each chapter. There is a great deal from the terrible case of Bridget Cleary who was killed in 1895 by her husband who believed she was a changeling - although unlike Joyce's heroine she had never actually gone anywhere - her husband was almost certainly a victim of the Capgras delusion, a rare mental condition that makes the sufferer believe a close family member has been replaced by a double. Tragically there was a body of folk belief about changeling that Michael Cleary could use to bolster his delusion, and draw neighbours and family into it (it seems likely that he was not alone in this - a programme on popular amusements in the nineteenth century recently threw up pages from the Police Gazette, one of which referred to the case of a woman who had put a baby on the fire - there was no further information, but I wonder if she believed she was dealing with a changeling...). But we are never sure if Tara is deluded, or telling a scary, dangerous truth.

I thoroughly recommend this book, and I shall be looking up the rest of Graham Joyce's work.
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