My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Fair Folk have walked straight out of the pages of fiction into the real world. Now they are struggling to survive in the modern world, under threat from immigration officers, each other and would be authors trying to capture them on film.
Beauty has just escape the Dark, the place Fair Folk go to when captured by an author’s camera. Now she is being pursued through the streets by another would be author. The only place she can go, the only place she knows will be safe, is the Tale’s End, a bookshop come coffee shop, run by Titania, one of the sisters Le Fay. She is rescued in the alley by the shop by Maeve, a former enemy and now friend, who has a penchant for red apples. Safe for now, Beauty must do a job for Titania before she is allowed to take her old job, barrista, and her old room back. She must steal Morgana Le Fay’s book of magic; a quest that could potentially blow the cover of all Fair Folk and start another battle between the Le Fay sisters. To make things worse for Beauty, the Dark isn’t finished with her, and there is a small matter of a ghostly author haunting her every step.
Beauty is the main character and is literally the archetype princess. She was Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. She is portrayed as being a sassy and mercurial lady, the only Folk who seems to be constantly changing and adapting to her situation. Everyone else around her seem to be stuck with their original personality. Take for example, Charlie, a.k.a Prince Charming, who is still looking to find his perfect partner in Beauty, despite centuries of marriages and divorces with her. Or Lancelot, who still holds a grudge against Arthur and Mordred and is looking for a damsel in distress to rescue or a dragon to slay, whilst serving as the Tale End’s chef.
The story is set in modern day New York, and mostly in the Tale’s End. The world-building is simple but effective enough, and puts me in the mind of the episodic videogame, The Wolf Amongst Us, and the tv show, Lost Girl.
What makes this story standout though is the excellent writing. Schneider has a talent for turning a sentence and finding words that just fit together so well. In some ways, the writing itself carries what is otherwise a simple enough story, making the characters more engaging and the settings believable. Give it a try and I’m sure you’ll find yourself turning the last page and wondering what comes next.