The Bookeaters (4.5 bites)
Amazon reader reviews
I really enjoyed this book. It is clever and funny, genuinely making me laugh out loud on more than one occasion. But it has darker elements too. There is no denying that Bea and the rest of the fae are living in a dictatorship. The threat of reduction is ever present, and if that wasn’t enough of a deterrent, then the Teller has released his Beast to seek and destroy his enemies. It tackles the subject of free will both for the fae in their totalitarian state and the humans who are forced to live plots that might not be truly what they want in life. Life isn’t a fairy tale, and not everyone has the same idea about what makes a happy ever after.
This is an intricately plotted story of a fairy who discovers that her longed-for career of giving people Happy Ever Afters is not the wonderful thing it’s been sold as. It’s alternately funny and chilling, set a vividly imagined world populated by flawed, intriguing characters who are far more real than many fictional humans. Lee’s witty, satirical storytelling carries the reader with a light touch through unexpectedly dark and twisty territory. Style wise, comparisons with Terry Pratchett are not exaggerated (spoken as a lifelong fan of the man himself!). It’s great, whether you’re after mystery, satire, dystopia, awesome female protagonists, or just believe that fairy tales are best when they’re old school - that is to say, sinister and unsettling. I loved it.
Bea is actually a bit of an anti-heroine to start with and the reader’s sympathies for her are sometimes strained; her determination can come across as narrow-mindedness but that is possibly the point. Certainly her intrusion into the simple life of ‘Sindy’, who is meant to marry the King but really doesn’t want to, has more than one uncomfortable moment that has you rooting for her rather than the fairy godmother… To Bea’s credit she realises her error, ironically placing both her and Sindy in increasing peril. This is a complex, often dark but still comedic world that really comes to life when we meet the ‘ugly sister’ Ana, who is actually quite sexy, and the mysterious blue-tinged Seven, advisor to blokey what-ho King John. John’s kingdom is under threat from a more powerful neighbouring Baron in much the same way as the Fae realm is under threat from the increasingly tyrannical machinations of the Teller. The novel looks at issues of free will versus fate, represented both by the different worlds of the Fae and Characters and also the different social strata within each. It manages to avoid both post-modern tweeness and intellectual abstraction with its earthy characters and FD Lee’s humour.
First and foremost, this is good fun and a great read, with a sharp story well told by interesting, believable characters. Influences clearly include Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, for while it does have a fantasy fairy tale setting, it uses this to explore the absurdity of many fairy tale conventions. Why, for example, would we assume that people would greet the interference of a fairy godmother with unqualified good cheer? And, if they don’t, what does that mean for the godmother? As much as anything, it’s about people finding their place in the world, often in defiance of the expectations and prejudices of others, something almost all of us can relate to. I really enjoyed it. It manages the rare trick of combining genuine escapism with making you think. Looking forward to book two.
Absolutely loved it, and like many have said before, can’t wait for the next one!Well carved characters, and a believable world (yes, even one that contains fairies, boggarts and ogres) you fall into and understand instantly. The world is Neil Gaimen, jokes are Terry Pratchett, and the politics are George Orwell, all originally made and sewn together by a brilliant wordsmith and storyteller who would please any fans of such authors.Bea is a wonderful, well-rounded character with similar friends, a great sense of humour, and the mouth of a fisherwife - and it makes a wonderful change to see from the current glut of empty female protagonists!This is definitely the start of a new, exciting and fun world, and I can’t wait to see how it all progresses!