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 Do you believe in fairies? American 1920's photographer Charles Castle doesn't--until a tantalizing photograph that just might show several fairies sends him packing off from his London studio to a Burkinwell inn, the Starry Night, on a quest to prove their existence. At first the photograph, the property of hard-headed constable Michael Walsmear, doesn't impress Castle; but a second look sends him off to eagerly credulous Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who commissions him to buy the negatives before they can compete with Doyle's highly prized (and obviously bogus) photos of fairies. Even before he arrives in Burkinwell, Castle is set upon by Paolo and Shorty--a pair of thieves clearly destined to turn up later, confirming first-novelist Szilagyi's unashamed use of melodrama and coincidence to fuel his rickety plot--and rescued by pert Linda Drain, whose husband, Rev. Thomas Drain, enjoys solitary midnight orgies in a grove where ten- inch fairies (yes, fairies) trip over his naked body. Inquiries of Esmirelda, the Rubensesque servant at the Starry Night, reveal that it was the same fairies who drove Bea Templeton to panic and run in front of Walsmear's car, leaving behind her enraged husband Brian, who doesn't believe in fairies, and her innocent daughters Anna and Clara, who play with them every night as Castle struggles to get the troupe on film. A portentous frame-tale--Castle's awaiting execution for an unspecified crime--promises that things will turn out more grim than Grimm. The farrago of Twenties setting, Victorian plotting, folkloric conventions, and postmodern twitting of same makes this a curiosity most likely to appeal to readers willing to suspend several sorts of disbelief at once.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-345-37751-6
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1992


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