A 15-year-old American girl and a half-fairy Irish boy fight to save the gate to the fairies' world.
Clare Macleod was born on Midsummer Day in an odd Irish house with a tree growing in the wall, but after her mother's death, when she was only 5, she and her father moved to the States. She's grown up with half-remembered stories of fairies her mother called the Strange. When they move back to the odd house, with its walls of stone and quartz and the yew tree living in it, Clare recalls and then meets Finn, a boy she shared infancy with. Finn, however, is actually half-fairy, several hundred years old, and the grandson of Balor, a demonlike man expelled from the fairies' world and now on the point of attacking the main gate between the fairy world and ours: Clare's yew tree. If the gate is destroyed, humans lose creativity and magic; fairies lose love. Catmull's omniscient perspective prevents the reader from entering into Clare’s or Finn's emotions: their actions are seen as though through a glass wall. Her mannered, consciously romanticized prose ("Even for Clare, to dive through a window that may be in the sky or may be in the water, a window on an island that floats at the heart of the Strange, was not an easy thing to do") creates further distance, muddling the worldbuilding beyond where most readers can suspend disbelief. Worst, the novel's conclusion isn't worth the number of pages it takes to get there.
Fewer words would have made a better story. (Fantasy. 12-16)