Will Shetterly,
Nevernever
(Tor, 1995)

Okay, first things first. Have you read Will Shetterly's Elsewhere? It's not absolutely necessary, but it's preferable and will make reading Nevernever more enjoyable. In addition, Elsewhere will be spoiled for you if you read Nevernever first. Ready? Good.

Nevernever continues the story of Ron, now known as Wolfboy for his striking resemblance to a teenage werewolf, thanks to a curse from a ticked off elf named Leda. Unable to find Leda to convince her to take off the spell, Wolfboy has adapted to his appearance, his inability to speak (have notebook will travel) and has settled into life in Bordertown by now. Still living at Bordertown's best bookstore, Elsewhere, he spends a lot of time taking care of Florida, the elven child who took refuge in Bordertown -- and who happens to be the true heir of Faerie.

One night, after a bad experience with some Packers (human gang members) which turns out for the better, Wolfboy realizes that he -- and probably Florida -- are being followed. Enter Orient, a human also known as "Finder" for his ability to find just about anything, and his elven sidekick Tik-Tik, a.k.a. "Fixer." They've been hired to find the heir for Crystaviel, an elf assigned to bring the heir back to Faerie, but they are perfectly willing to stick to the letter of their job -- there was nothing said about giving the heir to Crystaviel. Orient and Tik-Tik are happy to join forces and forge friendships with Wolfboy and his friends Sparks, Sai and Strider, among others.

Things seem to be going well enough until Strider is framed for the murder of an elf and Florida is snatched. The rescue attempt goes awry, and the remaining friends are left to patch up their lives. Then Wolfboy stumbles into a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will take him to the Nevernever, the wild Borderlands surrounding Bordertown.

Nevernever is solidly constructed with a tight plot, and Wolfboy makes a far better narrator; he is more assured and comfortable than the Ron of Elsewhere. With the complicated relationships among the characters established, there is more room for the story. The characters are better developed for the same reason, and it's hard to let the story end. (Fortunately, Shetterly's wife, Emma Bull, carries on with Finder, a story about Orient and Tik-Tik.) Once you're there, you may never never want to leave.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]



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