Herbie Brennan,
Faerie Wars
(Bloomsbury, 2003)

Henry Atherton is a fairly ordinary English boy, whose youthful optimism is shaken by a parent's infidelity and impending separation.

Pyrgus Malvae seems to be a fairly typical disaffected fairy prince, impulsively making up rules as he goes along -- until his fondness for kittens and, it seems, all creatures great and small forces the reader to reconsider his motivation.

These two characters from very different worlds collide when a portal from Pyrgus's world -- intended to send him to a remote island sanctuary -- lands him in the backyard garden of Mr. Fogarty, Henry's elderly, somewhat paranoid employer with a genius for invention and a surprisingly shady past.

There are plots worth pursuing in both worlds, but those from mundane England -- Henry's relationships with his parents, his mother's mistress, his sister and his best friend (future girlfriend?) Charlie -- are given short shrift here. Instead, Irish author Herbie Brennan focuses on Pyrgus's plight in both worlds and the various dark and demonic forces that threaten the peace of his fairyland home and his family's safety. In fact, it is sometimes hard to be sure who the real protagonist here is -- Henry, Pyrgus or Pyrgus's sister, Blue.

There will be plenty of time to sort all that out in the inevitable sequel. Meantime, Faerie Wars is a fine introduction to Brennan's dual world and opens many intriguing possibilities for future stories. Targeted for young adult fans of fantasy and contemporary fantasy, it will appeal equally to adult readers.

My only complaints are a too-neat resolution to one aspect of the story -- too much hinges on a convenient stumble at just the right moment -- and the feeling that we still know too little about Pyrgus's world by book's end. That, too, I imagine will be addressed in the sequel, and I urge fantasy buffs to pick up this series from the start.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 23 August 2003

Buy it from Amazon.com.