When war broke out a year ago in the fairy city of Ferrum, its inhabitants, except for four young rebellious fairies, fled in search of a safer home.
Now, a cease-fire has been declared, but tensions still run high among the combatants: the fairies; the gnomes, who work for the fairies in exchange for edible fairy body parts; and the invading tightropers, a species that swings about the city via ropes they spin in their mouths. In order to maintain peace in Ferrum, teen fairy Beckan Moloy and her remaining fairy friends form an unlikely alliance with gnomes and a tightroper. With Ferrum, Moskowitz has built a vividly gritty fairy realm and populated it with a richly diverse cast of characters, but the narrative can be confusing. Third-person past-tense narration alternates with third-person present, and it is peppered with remarks from an intrusive narrator. Only about two-thirds of the way into the novel do readers find out that the story is one fairy’s chronicle of the war through Beckan’s eyes, interspersed with asides. Though initially disconcerting, these trenchant asides are often quite endearing: “Shit, what the fuck am I even doing? What kind of history book doesn’t have a map?” the narrator laments early on.
In spite of its narrative unevenness, this novel of friendship, love, and fighting for one's beliefs should find a place among fans of the modern fairy story. (Fantasy. 15-18)