Knife by R J Anderson

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Knife by R J Anderson

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: A lovely, engaging story about faeries who have lost their magic after severing ties with humans. It's a very traditional story, but it never feels old-fashioned. A refreshing alternative to the ubiquitous urbanised supernatural tale.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: January 2009
Publisher: Orchard
ISBN: 1408303124

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Bryony lives with the other fairy folk in the oak tree at the bottom of the garden. It's a dwindling population, thanks to foxes, crows, cats, and an awful disease their Healer calls the Silence. Worse still, the fairies have lost their magic. For two hundred years, since a cataclysmic event known as the Sundering, the fairies have been forced to live without spells and glamours, and to avoid humans at all costs. Only the Queen possesses magic still, and she must ration it strictly. So life is hard for Bryony, who longs to see outside and to fly free.

Her wish is partly granted when she is made the Oakenwyld's Hunter, takes the name Knife, and learns to battle predators. In this role, Knife comes into contact with humans, and begins to uncover the terrible secrets behind the Sundering...

There are so many subversive urban fairies on the teen bookshelves, you'd need a forest of sticks before you started shaking. Knife is such a welcome and refreshing change. As the publishers blurb announces, isn't subversive or urban; it's classic. It's a very traditional story, with wings and oak trees, changeling babies, and human-fairy love affairs. Somehow, though, it never feels old-fashioned or quaint. It deals with the big emotions and questions of life, as all good fairy tales do. Knife is lonely, frustrated, courageous and daring. Paul is the same. The fairy folk are suffering from the lack of kindness in their culture. The humans need to look outside themselves for inspiration. Ultimately, both find that self-sacrifice, generosity and above all love, are the things that redeem us all.

The writing is crisp and sharp, and you can't help falling in love with the stubbornly individualist Knife. The fairy world inside the oak tree is vividly described, and the pain of its gradual wasting away is heartbreaking. By the end, your heart's in your mouth, you so want there to be a Proper Happy Ending.

Knife is a fairy story. It's a love story. It's a parable, too. It's both traditional and modern. The central characters rocks like a rocky thing. Readers, particularly girls, of ten right up to fifteeen (or forty-four if they're called Jill) are going to love it.

My thanks to the nice people at Orchard for sending the book.

Cold Tom by Sally Prue is a lyrical continuation of the Tam Lin and Elfin Queen story. Angel by Cliff McNish talks about mortal angels and has an enormous emotional charge.

Booklists.jpg Knife by R J Anderson is in the Top Ten Love Stories For Teenagers.

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Josefin Broad said:

I finished reading Knife about ten minutes ago and I loved it!

There are few books which make you feel an active part of the story but this is certainly one of them and I would love to really be there in the book so that I could not only take part in the events but also find what happens afterwards. (Especially how Knife and Paul managed to explain to Paul's parents!)

I realise that there are few people left now who can read a book and really appreciate it but it seems to me that the author of this review does and if any more of you happen to be reading this email, I suggest you read Knife!