The Good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar

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The Good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A slightly messy but fun and enjoyable story of fairies and their humans, their biases, their musics and their troubles.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: January 2011
Publisher: Piatkus
ISBN: 978-0749954208

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In this fairytale of New York, the Cornish fairy King's children are living in exile, hiding in Central Park from a nasty industrial revolution back home. They have friends from Ireland with them, and all have the ability to startle the local squirrels. Elsewhere two innocent scallywag fairies fleeing Scotland have arrived and adopted a human each. Heather has joined up with Dinnie, the city's worst busker, a fat, alcoholic and lonely fan of TV ads for phone sex, while Morag befriends Kerry, a dying kleptomaniac beauty, just as alone for different reasons.

Will Cornwall reach across to New York? Will the local community theatre man get his A Midsummer Night's Dream project off the ground? Will Dinnie's fiddle ever get played properly? What's to do with the baglady thinking she's trapped in a historical war against the Persians? And why are the local tramps dropping dead in the streets?

Beyond some pointed comments about New York - all the newcomer fairies find the city alien, and a surprising melting pot with fairies from three continents in their own 'hoods - this is a straight entertainment. It struggles at times to be the most readable book, with initial chapters whizzing by in a blur of who's who, what's what and where's where, but we soon get settled more comfortably into a set of mysterious and unusual plotlines.

It also shoots itself in the foot a bit with some details in its comedy - Kerry's need for a colostomy bag is a distasteful element when it crops up. You wish Millar had made it easier for us - perhaps even as easy as he seems to let fairy lore, Scottish and Gaelic fairy history, and Celtic music trip from his pen. He knows his stuff in those regards.

Despite some blatant references to A Midsummer Night's Dream (amateur theatricals, enforced romance through fairy magic, etc) we are clearly not in Athens, but a happy place where fairies are accepted. Not all humans in this book can see them, but with this writing we can, which is crucial. The jovial and increasingly bizarre exploits of all told, the growing importance of a floral Macguffin - all add to a breezy and incredibly, sincerely light-hearted comedy romance action adventure.

I still think the author could have used a better, more settled style - others would have found copious meaty cliffhangers, Millar thrusts ten plots into five pages - but all said and done this is a warming fantasy, as if Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman were channelling Shakespeare, and twenty years on from when Millar was penning it, it more than deserves a look.

I must thank the kind Piatkus people for my review copy.

Millar has quite a cult following, among those in the know. We enjoyed another title from him, Lonely Werewolf Girl. You might also enjoy Benny Allen Was A Star: A New York Music Story by Alan Lorber.

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Buy The Good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar at


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