Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce

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Of course, everything depends on who is telling the story. It always does. I have a story, and though there are considerable parts I’ve had to imagine, the way I saw it was as follows.

Twenty years ago, Tara Martin disappeared. Her disappearance wrecked the lives of those she loved. Her parents totally shut down. Her boyfriend Richie- suspected of killing her-squandered his musical talents and crawled into a whiskey bottle. Her brother Peter believed the rumors about Richie and the former best friends stopped talking.

But then one Christmas morning, there’s a knock on the door. It’s Tara. Not only is she alive, but she doesn’t appear to have aged. The 35-year-old still looks like a teenager. Initially, Tara is vague about where she was, but eventually she confesses to her brother-she was taken by fairies.

Her story is a variation on the old legends. While walking in the woods, she meets a beautiful stranger on a white horse. They ride through a strange and unfamiliar landscape. “When we got to the top of the hill, we could see the last read streaks of the sun like the scrap of something torn on the mountains in the west, mountains I didn’t recognize.” He spirits her away to his home, which he shares with others. When she tries to leave, she keeps getting lost. The man promises to take her back home in six months. She realizes far too late that time moves more slowly in his world. After her six months with the fairies, she returns home to realize she’s missed the last twenty years.

The point of this book isn’t to decide whether Tara is lying.  Instead, it’s about the people she left behind, and the wounds that reopen as she returns from the dead. There’s Richie, furious with her but also still in love with her. Peter hates Tara for her disappearing act and her tall tale, but eventually becomes a surrogate father to his sister. And her parents, so overjoyed at her return they don’t even want to ask where she’s been, start realizing how difficult it is to have her back. She begins to talk to a therapist, who’s trying to pull her story apart. A man of science, he’s sure she wasn’t stolen by the fairies, and is determined to figure out what really happened.

Some Kind of Fairy Tale is a slow burn, more interested in posing questions than answering them. It’s not an epic tale about the world of humans colliding with the fairies. It’s about a family, and about trying to go home until you realize that home isn’t an actual place. While it’s not perfect-I could do without the fairy stalkers and lake orgies, I’m just not that kind of girl-it was fully engrossing. It’s absolutely worth picking up.

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