Sentimental, wildly imaginative follow-up to The Onion Girl (2001) finds Jilly Coppercorn abducted into the fairy underworld and still sweet on fiddler Geordie Riddell.
The trouble between humans and the fairy spirits gets underway when fiddler Lizzie Mahone’s car breaks down on the way home from a gig with her band, the Knotted Cord. Attacked by a formidable gang of dwarfish, aggressive men called bogans, she’s rescued by a taciturn native named Grey. Lizzie buries the deer the bogans killed, enraging the fairies on the one hand, but on the other, endearing herself to the deer’s father, Walker. In the town of Newford, where the humans reside, occasional fiddler Geordie is dating a weird seer named Mother Crone who holds forth in the Woodforest Plaza Mall. Geordie’s been best friends with artist Jilly since before the hit-and-run accident that turned her into a Broken Girl in a wheelchair, but that’s as far as it goes. (“ ‘Everybody knows you carry a torch for each other,’ ” complains Jilly’s friend Mona. “ ‘You’re just never single at the same time.’ ”) Jilly breaks up with perfect boyfriend and nurse Daniel, leaving her free to join Geordie on a gig with the Knotted Cord at the Custom House—filling in for Lizzie’s fiddler cousin Siobhan, who broke her wrist in a fall instigated by the vengeful bogans. Abducted during their sleep by fairies and spirited away to the woodlands “in-between,” Lizzie and Jilly shape-shift into their younger selves and encounter all manner of strange creatures, from corbae and cerva to aganesha and crow girls (a glossary might have helped). Joe, wise kindred spirit to Jilly and peacenik among the rival factions, attempts to mollify Queen Tatiana (Mother Crone’s superior), while Jilly’s villainous siblings Del and Raylene make cameo appearances.
Despite the convoluted lineages, a rather sweet relationship novel.