The blurb says: this is the compelling story of a young woman struggling to escape a troubled childhood, a brilliant diary of first encounters with the great novels of modern fantasy and SF, and a spellbinding tale of escape from ancient enchantment.
Raised by a half-mad mother who dabbled in magic, Morwenna Phelps found refuge in two worlds. As a child growing up in Wales, she played among the spirits who made their homes in industrial ruins. But her mind found freedom and promise in the science fiction novels that were her closest companions. Then her mother tried to bend the spirits to dark ends, and Mori was forced to confront her in a magical battle that left her crippled–and her twin sister dead.
Fleeing to her father whom she barely knew, Mori was sent to boarding school in England–a place all but devoid of true magic. There, outcast and alone, she tempted fate by doing magic herself, in an attempt to find a circle of like-minded friends. But her magic also drew the attention of her mother, bringing about a reckoning that could no longer be put off…
OK, enough from blurbville. This is set in England in 1979, and if you like fantasy lite, and sci fi, and reading and witches, you are going to kvell over this book. Growing up in Wales with a whacko witch mother who is really nasty, our gal and her sister see, cavort and speak with fairies, which are not like any fairies you are familiar with. At one point, she muses, “I wondered if fairies are a sentient manifestation of the magical interconnectedness of the world.” Yeah, I often muse that, too. Even
She is a voracious reader of sci fi, and throughout the book we are treated (subjected to, if you are not a sci fi fan) of innumerable mentions of the classic sci fi canon from the fifties on. When she escapes the viscousness of her mother after her sister dies, she goes to live with her strange father, who seems to be under the spell of his two wealthy sisters, with whom he lives. Our gal comes to the conclusion that these women have a hold over him because they, too, are witches, but of the more benign variety.
Well, me being the sci fi aficionado that I am, loved the references, and had to agree with her when she says, at one point,
Did you ever read so much SF that you start thinking you don’t know quite what’s impossible any more?
The lines blur so much these days between sci fi and reality, and fantasy and reality, that you just have to wonder, don’t you.
I believe this book falls into the category of fabulism, which is a form of magic realism in which fantastical elements are placed into an everyday setting.
It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it immensely. Because I have never seen a fairy and consider that totally unjust. If the subject of fairies et al interests you, you might take a gander at DAIMONIC REALITY – A FIELD GUIDE TO THE OTHERWORDLY by Patrick Harpur. I wrote about it here, but what the gist of what he says about fairies is:
His basic premise is that our psyche extends beyond our physical human bodies. He leans heavily on Jung’s Archetypes of the collective unconscious, suggesting that visions and apparitions might well be the projection of those unconscious Archetypes.
He calls all these various paranormal phenomena collectively the daimonic reality, and tells us that although this stuff may have some physical reality, such as crop circles, or Yeti footprints or UFO landing traces, it is not literally real. It is literally metaphor. He believes that our modern society has no room for the irrational and the incomprehensible, and that instead of fairy folk myths, or origin tales, we are compelled to convert all that anomalous phenomena into scientificism – scientific and technical explanations. He points out that even physics, with its ever diminishing size of the foundation of matter – molecules, atoms, quarks, down to claimed entities that have never actually been seen, only postulated, the dual nature of some particles as waves/particles, are really simply more daimonic reality covered over by quasi science.
See what reading fiction does for you? Sends you off into some other very fascinating non-fiction paths, where your mind can expand on ideas that you haven’t come across before.