R J Anderson
January 8th 2009
Deep inside the great Oak lies a dying faery realm, bursting with secrets instead of magic. Long ago the faeries mysteriously lost their magic. Robbed of their powers, they have become selfish and dull-witted. Now their numbers are dwindling and their very survival is at stake.
Only one young faery — Knife — is determined to find out where her people's magic has gone and try to get it back. Unlike her sisters, Knife is fierce and independent. She's not afraid of anything—not the vicious crows, the strict Faery Queen, or the fascinating humans living nearby. But when Knife disobeys the Faery Queen and befriends a human named Paul, her quest becomes more dangerous than she realizes. Can Knife trust Paul to help, or has she brought the faeries even closer to the brink of destruction?
Knife was a really good book. I was a little iffy about reading it, because I've heard it's kind of on the border of MG/YA (I don't know why that would put me off, I have nothing against middle grade), but it was actually really cool, and definitely appropriate for both reading ages. So, y'know, don't let that put you off.
Knife is, in it's essence, a charming kind of book. It's written in third person, so it kind of feels like the fairy books that I read when I was younger, and gave it a more traditional faery-ish vibe overall. The faeries aren't your regular YA faeries, either, which I think is something that really added to it's appeal for me. These are more the faeries I grew up with, rather than the ones I've learned to like now that I'm a bit older. (ie, Wicked Lovely, The Iron King, ect...) But despite the fact that they're kind of more on the small side, and it definitely wasn't as debauched as I'm used to (not that faery books are usually dirty or anything, but them faeries do have a certain reputation for seductions), there still was that overhanging kind of darkness about what had truly happened during the Sundering, and if everything in the Oak was all that it seemed.
I also loved the fact that it was told from the faeries perspective, rather that the humans, and I would like, to see that in YA faery books more often, too. It'd be interesting to see how being that kind of a faery would jade a person, and what it would take to bring them out of that. And I'm going off on a tangent... But yeah, it was really awesome that the faeries weren't the bad guys in this instance, and I didn't have to keep up with all that court business. I liked getting to learn all about the faeries again, and their traditions, and their whole thing about bargains and whatnot.
I loved Knife as a character, too! She may have been tiny, but she was awesome and strong, and I loved that she was the Queen's Hunter. She is one faery you wouldn't want to mess with if you were a hungry crow, and I loved that fierceness and the fact that she wasn't scared to fight, as well as the emotional story arc she was going through, and it was really interesting to see her develop as a character from someone relatively cold, I guess, but still nice to people and stuff, to someone just better. She retained all of her awesome character traits, but also learnt a few things about love and trust and friendship.
And on the note of friendship, I loved Paul too! I have such respect for him, and the fact that he stuck with Knife through everything. He also had some stuff going on with him, too, though, and I think that their friendship was equally important to both of them, as not only did it help Knife to learn that even if she was a faery, she could still actually make friends, it helped Paul to get through some of his feelings about what he went through, and there was just a really great bit around the middle of the book that just was awesome. I mean it was awesome in itself. In fact, it was pretty sucky, but what it showed of their friendship and how much they cared for each other was awesome. Also, I loved the fact that friendship came first, for both of them, and that there wasn't a romantic aspect until much later on in the book.
Knife is a really, really great faery book that I think would be really good for the people that *think* they don't like faeries because they're not reading about the right kind. Besides, it's just a really cool book that has a plot that keeps you reading (as one would hope, I guess) and characters that you'll really just adore.