Except the Queen, by Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder

Nothing like celebrating Mayday by writing a review of a book about faeries!

Buy from Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, or IndieBound

Jane Yolen’s website / Midori Snyder’s website
Publication date – February 2, 2010

Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) Sisters Serena and Meteora were once proud members of the high court of the Fairy Queen- until they angered her highness. Separated and banished to the mortal realm of Earth, they must find a way to survive in a strange world in which they have no power. But there is more to their new home than they first suspect-especially a danger that waits to be unleashed upon both the human and faerie worlds…

Thoughts: When Meteora and Serana get cast out of the faerie realm of Greenwood and shoved into aging mortal bodies in the modern world, you’ve got you expect that things will be interesting, not just for the characters but also for the reader. Banished from their home not even for a prank but for knowing too much about the Queens secrets, they have to do their best at making their way in a life that’s difficult for those who have been brought up to it, let alone those who are used to something quite dissimilar.

Naturally, this leads to a whole host of humourous misunderstandings, both linguistically and culturally, made worse by the fact that they aren’t plunked into this world together but instead sent cities apart. Aside from having to adjust to the annoyances of aging bodies that don’t work half as well as they’re used to, the sisters experience shocks at the way people will casually fling about vulgar curses without a care, misread “Co-op” as coop and wondering why there are no chickens running around, and send letters to each other by pigeon until they discover the baffling system of postal service, which they refer to as “eagle mail.” You can’t help but chuckle at what they get themselves into and how they misinterpret all the little things we take for granted.

But this book isn’t all fun and games, and it takes a look into the darker side of the faerie realm and fey natures. Interwoven with Meteora and Serana are the stories of Sparrow, plagued by nightmares and unknowingly marked by an UnSeelie fey as part of his blood tithe, and Robin, son of and slave to an UnSeelie fey who’s spent his life at his father’s beck and call, thinking himself no better than a dog. Their stories weave in and out and around each other like ribbons on a Maypole, making the story rich and intriguing, and brings everything together at the end in a convincing and satisfying way.

Which, is we discover, is exactly how it should have been all along. It goes without saying that things aren’t always as they appear, especially when you’re dealing with the fey.

The style and pacing of this book is flawless, fascinating, and as an introduction to these two authors, I can safely say that my curiosity has been piqued enough to make me want to check out what else they’ve done. If it’s even half as good as Except the Queen, I think I’m bound to enjoy it. With its dark background, mythological interest, and sense of humour, this book is highly recommended to fans of urban fantasy and faeries.

(Received from Penguin books in exchange for a review.)

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