Take one part each of faerie and changling tales, as well as a third part of Shakespeare's plays - mix well in modern New York City. To this setting add two strong and interesting leads (one male, one female), a cast of colourful secondary characters, a mysterious threat and a kelpie in a bathtub. Mix well. Fill your hardback with the mixture and let sit for 352 pages (or 327 if using paperback).
Your result? One really enjoyable addition to the subgroup of young adult faerie fiction.
A lot of faerie fiction these days uses their stories to explore the darker sides of human nature and modern society as well as the darker, more traditional (that is to say, non-Disneyfied) aspects of their supernatural subject. And while that is all very well and good, I also see why the sort of topics featured in those stories might be off-putting to some who don't care for such things. Wondrous Strange would be perfect, then, for those who want to explore faeries in a modern setting but without those factors mentioned above.
Kelley is a wonderful protagonist. She is well-balanced and very likeable - a lot of protagonists these days either tend to be too dumb too live
or are just too skilled and knowledgeable against all reason, but Kelley fits right where you would expect the average girl to fit. She has her strengths, she has her weaknesses. She has struggles that she comes up against, and she does her best to go up against them and come out on top. I loved her sense of humour, and many of her interactions with minor characters (who themselves were wonderful and hilarious) had me laughing out loud and cheering her on. I found her very east to relate to, and I think others will too.
The other thing I adored was the blend of city, folklore and Shakespeare. While Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream
is overused in fiction (especially young adult fiction) as the Shakespeare play of choice - that, and Romeo and Juliet
- its purpose and relationship with the story makes a lot of sense, and thus it blends in well. It's a connection, and not the plot, just like all the other wacky goings on that Kelley is just discovering. Everything that appears has a purpose, no matter how small, and the plot is intricate and well thought out - such as when theatre-related jokes bring about new meanings when old, familiar faces pop up.
All in all, Wondrous Strange
is a delight to read, with something to appeal to those already familiar with faerie fiction as well as those wanting to try it. Its sequel, Darklight
, comes out in hardback at the very end of this year.