Monday, December 01, 2008

Lisa’s Take – The Good Fairies of New York (Martin Millar)

I picked up this book pretty much entirely because it had a quote on the front and an introduction by Neil Gaiman. After all, if one of my favorite authors likes it, it can’t be bad, right? ...Right?

Funny, that’s what I thought when I saw Scott Lynch’s quote on the front of The Blade Itself, which turned out to inspire one of the nastiest reviews I’ve ever written. Granted, the later books in the trilogy turned my opinion around, but the fact remains that I shouldn’t trust author quotes, as it seems to always go badly. I didn’t even give this book the chance that I gave to TBI (which I slogged through to the end, gleefully finding things to pick on). I put down The Good Fairies after about a third of the book, and have had nary a regret. I didn’t really even mean to stop reading it – I had been forcing it down in spite of my lack of enthusiasm – but I left it on a table in the library and just sort of forgot it for a few weeks. When I found it again, I couldn’t muster any enthusiasm, so I gave up. I think it may still be laying open on the table.

The premise is that a group of fairies from Scotland accidentally end up in Manhattan due to political intrigue. Angry kings hunting them and the suchlike. They like whiskey, they aren’t world wise, and only some people can see them. They attach themselves to several different main characters, including a pretty artsy girl with a wasting disease and a fat, dickish, dead-beat violinist who can’t make his rent. Hijinks ensue. I suspect I gave up right around the time it would have gotten more interesting, but frankly it shouldn’t have taken so long to get to the point.

Aside from the book not really going anywhere for the first 110 pages… I really have nothing to say. The premise wasn’t all that original, and I hated most of the characters. The fairies were all obnoxious, and the main human characters were hollow. It’s like the author just piled more and more quirks (oh, she’s ill! Oh, she’s an artist! Oh, she’s collecting flowers, how interesting!) in an attempt to make them deep enough to give a damn about. It didn’t work. Part of the problem was probably the completely flat prose – there was nothing engaging or compelling about the words the author picked. Each sentence was just flat and bare… perhaps it was a stylistic choice, but it didn’t do anything for me.

Obviously, I’d say skip The Good Fairies of New York. I can’t make a definitive call, since I only read part of the book, but the first third was uninspired and lacked any sort of hook. If you want urban fantasy, read War for the Oaks. If you want fantastical beings out of their element, read American Gods. Or, if you want an opportunity to prove to me that I made a terrible mistake in not finishing, read The Good Fairies and then write a counter-review.

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