Two Victorian-era English children uncover a dangerous scheme to rewrite an old covenant that controls the flow of fairy magic into this world.
The increasingly dense fogs of enchantment that characters find themselves groping through as the tale goes on are as nothing to the soup of bewildering incidents, muddled storylines, aimless backing and forthing, and vague allusions to past events that Fayers expects readers to navigate. At the invitation of local magnate Lord Skinner (whom everyone, with unanimous, eerie insistence, dubs a “fine gentleman”), newly orphaned preteen Ava returns to the barely remembered town of Wyse, where the magic mirrors through which the Fair Folk of Unwyse carry on a brisk trade in (shabby) enchanted goods have been failing. Hardly has she met Howell, a pointy-eared lad from Unwyse with, like her, a mysterious fairy mark on his skin, than the two become guardians of a magic book (see title). Even though it’s seemingly only good for testy comments and unhelpful predictions, it’s also being desperately sought by Unwyse’s creepy kingpin, Mr. Bones. Chucking in arbitrary elements, from a snappy aunt who is transformed into a snappy dog to a paternalistic “Fair Folk are people, too” movement in Wyse, the author pushes events along to a climactic revelation. The cast, human and otherwise, defaults to white.
A confusing mess unredeemed by clouds of mist, dashes of humor, and a few gothic elements. (Fantasy. 11-13)