Exiled from the “land of fairy tales,” a melancholy youth seeks to find his way back.
In this richly textured, multilayered story, a prince named Iliån and a fairy named Oliå fall in love in the Kingdoms. Oliå renounces her magical powers to be with Iliån, but a malevolent genie banishes them with the condition Oliå never allow Iliån to see her. Arriving in Paris in 1936, Iliån remembers nothing. Sheltered by the proprietors of the Maison Pearl, Iliån’s an amiable, mysterious youth plagued by “frenzies.” A book of fairy tales unlocks his memories, triggering Iliån’s quest to return to the Kingdoms and to Oliå; he’s unaware she’s secretly with him. Enlisting in the war, Iliån is captured by the Nazis and then escapes from a German prison camp, fights in the Resistance, and continues his quest, eventually retiring in seclusion with his collection of fairy-tale “tokens of proof.” When a boy with a camera invades Iliån’s privacy, Iliån sends him away, but 25 years later, the boy, now an adult writer, becomes the teller of this tale. Alternating storylines and narrators challenge and beguile, eventually merging into a masterfully interconnected tale in which compelling themes of revenge, love, and devotion transcend both the fairy world’s fantasy and the realism of wartime Paris.
A luminous, haunting, intriguingly intricate modern fairy tale. (Fantasy. 12-18)