Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bookish Thoughts: The Fairfolk in Knob's End: Book 1: The Daughters of Annwn by Rachel Armstrong


The Fairfolk in Knob's End: Book 1: The Daughters of Annwn by Rachel Armstrong
Featherweight Press, 2013
Fantasy (YA); 218 pgs 

I worry that many people will pass over this book because it is from a small press, but I hope you won't.  I really, really, really hope you won't.  

The author approached me about reading this book when she heard that I was struggling with a more serious read, wishing I had something lighter. It's her first foray into Young Adult Fantasy, a genre I've started to read more and more in recent years.  I have read two of the author's previous books, both mysteries, and so knew there was a good chance I would like this book.  And, oh my gosh, did I ever!

This is one of those rare fantasy novels that cast a spell on me as I read, where even when not reading, I feel like a part of me is still inside the pages of the book.  Fantasy novels most often have that effect on me, in truth, especially the really good ones.  

From the Publisher: 
As if losing her mother and moving to live with her grandmother in Knob’s End wasn’t enough to contend with, sixteen-year-old Sophie James soon discovers that her new best friend is more than the average high school girl. Nerys is a magical Tylwyth Teg from the land of Annwn, and has been forced to seek refuge from a terrible fate.

Unless the people of Annwn can find a way to break the pact made with the sinister Coraniaids some two thousand years before, Nerys and her sisters will be forced into marriage and their homeland will be changed forever. Sophie and Nerys need to find the Dagger of Everlasting Truth and destroy it. The problem is no one knows its location, and, with so many lives in mortal danger, there is no time for mistakes. Lies are told and danger lurks around every corner, yet there persists a whisper of a human girl who may hold the key to their salvation, a girl with the gift of prophecy. Could Sophie be the one?

I didn't always like stories about the fae and their kindred.  Only in recent years have I really been drawn to them.  Gaelic mythology is so interesting, and I enjoy seeing it brought to life in literature.  

Rachel Armstrong has created an interesting world, that sits alongside our own.  Knob's Hill, by all accounts, is an ordinary place.  Humans go about their daily lives, not realizing a door into another world lies right on their border.  Annwn is a beautiful place, but darkness threatens it and tensions are high.  

Nerys is a Tylwyth Teg, hiding among the humans and avoiding a fate that will mean the downfall of her people.  It's clear there is something different about her the minute we meet her.  Sophie knows this on some level too, only she can't quite pinpoint it.  Ever since Sophie came to town, she's noticed little things--things that make her question her reality.  

Sophie is the kind of girl I think I would have gotten along very well with at the age of sixteen.  She is bookish, smart, athletic, and kindhearted.  As the story unfolds, Sophie grows more confident and finds a strength inside herself she didn't know she had.  I suppose in some respects, looking back, Sophie seemed too perfect some of the time, but it wasn't something I really noticed as I read the book, and it didn't hurt my enjoyment of it.

Sophie comes across many unexpected allies in her search, and many of them found their way into my heart just as Sophie did.  I was especially fond of Cadoc the Wanderer (okay, so I have a little crush on him).  I think my most favorite character, however, was Tegwen.  I was quite moved by her story and admired her strength.

The Fairfolk in Knob's End is an adventure quest story that takes readers deep into the land of Annwn.  Sophie sets out in search of the Dagger of Everlasting Truth, facing obstacles along the way. There is romance and action, politics and moral dilemmas, and magic, both good and bad, just as one might expect.  I have to say, the action scenes were quite intense!  The author's descriptions of them put me right in the middle of them.  There was more than one moment in the book when I found myself holding my breath a few times, suspecting the outcome, but still concerned for the characters.

I hated to leave Annwn when the story came to an end. Fortunately, this is the first book in a series, and it only touches the surface of a a world I would like to get to know better.   

Rating:  * (Very Good)

You can learn more about Rachel Armstrong, aka Liz Strange, and her books on the author's website.

Source: E-copy of the book provided by the author for review.


© 2013, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

22 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for not only the great review, but for agreeing to read the book in the first place. I too hope this one finds its readers.

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    1. Liz - I am glad you gave me the opportunity to read it. I so enjoyed being a part of the characters' world and cannot wait to get back.

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  2. It does sound different and pretty good. There's a lack of a romance in your summary which sounds good; not that romance is bad, but there are so many triangles in YA.

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    1. Charlie - Yes, it was a refreshing change! There is romance in this book, but it is a minor side story, and there is no love triangle.

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  3. I love fantasy and YA books...always a great combination. I would take the chance and read it for sure. I've read best-seller authors and have been bored to tears!!

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    1. Staci - I agree! I actually prefer my YA to also be fantasy more often than not.

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  4. Not at all put off by the fact this comes from a small press, it looks and sounds like the kind of book I'd enjoy.

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    1. Tracy - There are likely quite a few hidden treasures published by smaller presses. I hope you will give this one a try!

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  5. I would love to read this one! I like small presses, and am gathering a bunch of reads for the readathon. If I can get this one in time, it will be on the list, but if not...I will read it anyway later :) Fantastic review today!

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    1. Heather - It is a quick read, so perfect for a readathon--or anytime really. :-)

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  6. I rarely read YA fantasy, but this sounds worth a look, and I like supporting small presses. I'm adding this to my wish list.

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    1. Quirky - This definitely was more your traditional fantasy novel than much of the popular fantasy YA you find on shelves these days. It was a nice change of pace in that regard. It likely won't appeal to someone who doesn't like to read fantasy, but, then, you never know!

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  7. I do like YA fantasy! Thanks for the rec!

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    1. Jenclair - I do too! It's a fun genre to read. :-)

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  8. Sounds like one to add to the list. And I always like the idea of giving a small press book an opportunity.

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    1. Kathleen - Me too! There are some great books out there just waiting to be discovered.

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  9. This sounds like a lovely book, Wendy. I really want to find this now. Thanks for the review, and fingers crossed I can get it here. I love that it has Welsh fairy tales, or a Welsh flavour to it, too.

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    1. Susan - I love the names. I may not be able to pronounce them, but I do love them.

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  10. PS I just checked. I can get it on Amazon! Hurray!

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  11. As I was getting ready to skim over this review I saw your first few lines and stopped to read :) I'm not sure that this is the book for me just now but I think it's cool that the author gave you what you needed (a less serious read).

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