Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by E. Archer

Age Range: 11 - 13

Pub Date: April 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-545-16040-7
Publisher: Scholastic

What are the chances that a granted wish will go off without a hitch—particularly when both the Fairy Godmother and the Narrator are ham-handed bumblers? Rightly regarding their hereditary right to one wish each as a curse, both the aristocratic Battersbys and their American branch, the Stevens family, have forbidden their offspring to make even idle wishes, ever. Enter black-sheep relative the Duchess Chessimyn of Cheshire, who pops up when geeky teen Ralph Stevens visits his three heretofore-unmet British cousins, and persuades the young folk to defy their parents’ ban. Disasters ensue. First, idealistic cousin Cecil’s efforts to liberate a land of downtrodden fairies kill his gloomy half-sister Beatrice. Then Ralph enters into a determined search through Purgatory’s rival cities of the “Recently-Living” and the more gruesomely decomposed “Soon-to-be-Dead” for Beatrice’s spirit. The confusion is compounded by the intrusive and increasingly ill-tempered Narrator’s efforts to maintain control of the unruly plot. By the end events have taken such a turn for the surreal that a hastily summoned Review Board of the Royal Narratological Society has to step in to right matters. The self-conscious metafictional folderol is likely to lose more readers than it gains, but Archer (pseudonym for YA suspense novelist Eliot Schrefer) creates engaging characters and telling throwaway lines and ultimately wrestles the family conflict at the core of this into a sort of resolution. (Fantasy. 11-13)