Review in a word: Odd
The Phurnacite factory in Abercwmboi killed all the trees for two miles around.
Growing up in Wales, Morwenna Phelps and her twin sister, Morganna, are immersed completely in a world that is very real to them, a world of fairies and magic. Their mother is a witch, who tries to use magic to gain power in the world. Morwenna and Morganna confront their mother—and succeed in stopping her—but at the cost of Morganna’s life and Morwenna’s leg. Now suddenly sisterless, crippled, and without a guardian, Morwenna is sent by relatives to a boarding school in England where no one believes in magic, and where the fairies hate to go. Feeling alone, Morwenna finds solace in reading the science fiction and fantasy books in the library, and joins a sci-fi book club. But her mother is plotting something again, and Morwenna must stop her.
While I have never claimed to be an admirer of science fiction or fantasy, it wasn’t the presence of magic and fairies that through me off with this book. It was the unsatisfactory answers to the plot. For example, I never actually understood what Morwenna’s mother was trying to do. Why did she want power?? What was her motivation? But that was never discussed—the reader just had to trust that it was bad. I also never found out exactly what was wrong with Morwenna’s leg. She is in excruciating pain for most of the book, but we never find out during the multiple doctor’s visits what is actually wrong. Drove me bonkers.
The neat part is the fluid integration of other well known science fiction and fantasy books. Every page references places, characters, and events from series like Lord of the Rings and The Dragonriders of Pern, and authors like Silverberg, C. S. Lewis, and Delany. These books are such a part of Morwenna’s life that she integrates the characters mid-sentence, so that I was often wondering, “Did I miss a character?” And the answer is yes—but characters from other books. Between the random allusions to sci fi and the unpronounceable Welsh words, the reading was at times a bit frustrating.
We thought that we were living in a fantasy landscape when actually we were living in a science fictional one. In ignorance, we played our way through what the elves and giants had left us, taking the fairies’ possession for our ownership. I named the dramroads after places in The Lord of the Rings when I should have recognised that they were from The Chrysalids.
If you ABSOLUTELY love science fiction and fantasy—yes, you should read this book. If not, don’t bother.
P.S. What do you think of the structured review format?