by Melissa Marr
I devoured this book as quickly as if it were candy. I can't remember the last time I sat down and finished off a book in one gulp. From start to finish, Marr's urban faerie creation took me a little less than two hours to read. Riveting? You betcha.
Aislinn, raised by her grandmother outside Philadelphia, harbors a secret. She and her family have the ability to see faeries. Cruel, strange and ethereal, the faery folk drive Aislinn to the brink of insanity. Her only hope is to keep a low-profile and stony face so they don't realize she can see them. Aislinn's grandmother has provided her with a lifetime of training in how to ignore the casual violence and malicious trickery that Aislinn is witness to each day. Craving some small amount of normalcy, she convinces her grandmother to let her go to a Catholic high school. Because faeries are allergic to steel, Aislinn feels most comfortable spending time with her friend and sometime crush Seth, an artist who lives in a converted steel boxcar.
When Aislinn finds herself being stalked by two members of the faerie court whom she initially nicknames Faery Boy and Dead Girl, her panic-mode goes into high gear. Turns out that they are Keenan and Donia -- the Summer King and Winter Girl. The Winter Queen, Beria, has enchanted her son Keenan to be cursed until he finds his mate. Any girl who attempts to take up the staff of the long-lost Summer Queen and fails is doomed to become the Winter Girl, a personal servant of the Winter Queen's until the next girl takes her place. Aislinn soon finds herself torn between the impossibly-patient and sensitive human Seth and arrogantly confident yet bewitching Keenan.
Each chapter heading includes historical quotes about faeries. I also really liked the balance of perspectives, between Aislinn, Keenan and Donia. One thing that bothered me was the spelling of the main character's name. Aislinn goes by "Ash" with her friends... otherwise I never would have guessed that her name is pronounced "Ash-lynn" not "Ace-lynn" Also, early on, cities are mentioned as having less faeries, as faeries are attracted to places with a lot of living greenery. But considering the swarms of faeries Aislinn sees every day, it seems impossible that there could be more. There are times when she literally has trouble walking down the street, or pushing her way through a hallway past the crowds of faeries; she's living outside Philadelphia, home of the steel industry, where faeries are supposed to be scarce. Still, these are only minor quibbles. The book has a very satisfying ending and includes an interview with the author and other bonus material as an addendum. This novel will appeal to readers who are looking for something along the lines of Meyer's Twilight, Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell or Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle series. Otherworldly, with just a hint of romance.
I borrowed this book from the library.