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Fairy Grit – a review of Knife by R.J. Anderson

It’s yet another pre-teen throwback! This was the first in the trilogy that I never wound up reading all of. I’m not entirely sure why. It might have been due to my library rental period running out? Ah well, at least as an adult I can get the book for myself again.

I found myself loving this book for reasons my younger self didn’t see prior.

Bryony is a fairy living in the great oak who longs for adventure in spite of the dangers outside, one such longing that lead to her encountering a human. Her years of punishment and ostracization over it come to a close when she become the apprentice hunter for the clan. However, her outside discoveries leave more questions than answers as she comes across question after question – why do fairies look so similar to humans? Why don’t they have magic anymore? Why does she feel depressed every day she’s away from her newfound human companion?

The premise of this book hinges on not being like other fairy stories. When I was younger this wound up perfect for me having read a hundred fairy related books when I was under 10 and was starting to get into grittier middle grade fantasy books. This book served as the perfect way for me to continue reading about fairies without “childish embarrassment”. It serves very well for that even today. I haven’t read a book with a pixie or fairy in it for ages and it felt so good to again with this mature take. I love a fairy that isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

Character is a strong suit of Anderson’s, if not her strongest. It is very easy to get motivations of a character when you learn about them, which is by far the most important part of a character. She nails that like nothing. Those motivations become the building blocks for every character in this novel, from Bryony’s want to live a life unprotected by her queen to Paul wanting his life to have purpose again.

It was also fascinating for a world so small to be built out so much. To built out the scope for you, a majority of this novel took place in a house and backyard. But my god does this house and backyard have such a history built on so little! I don’t want to spoil a single detail. But as the series does suggest, this is no ordinary fairytale. It is never what you would expect, so I’m giving you no expectations but to expect that. This single tree that all of fairykind lives in, pun intended, has deep roots.

This novel had so many different kinds of plots in it to entertain you. Fantasy romance? You got it. Political mystery? Hell yes. Woodland mushroom fantasies? Metric buttloads. This is without a doubt the perfect bite sized book to get people into contemporary fantasy. Lore that’s easy to memorise and take in, a romance that’s easy to root for, an easily explained magic system and of course wacky hijinks. Who doesn’t love wacky hijinks?

So childhood me was right with book one. Now I have the remainder of a trilogy to complete for the first time…

Knife gets a score of 4.5/5.I’m so glad my childhood love of fairies made me pick up this book.

Yours in writing

Amy

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