2017 might already be here but I am still catching up with a few 2016 reads that I – sadly – was not able to get to last year. I recently read two lovely YA Fantasy novels with LGBTQ characters and romance – and both had a fairy tale feel to them.
Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill is a lovely, short webcomic-turned-graphic-novel about two princesses. Princess Sadie and her pet dragon are up in her tower prison when Princess Amira shows up on her unicorn-horse to save her. The two set off to have adventures, become best friends and eventually find their happily ever after. Princess Princess Ever After is a super cute, light-hearted romp that still features underlining conflicts that give the story more gravitas. Both princesses have background conflicts they need to address – Sadie suffered serious bullying and abuse whereas Amira has to deal with the fact that being an adventurer is not exactly lady-like. Of course the concept of “lady-like” is at the heart here with both princesses having to reassess gender roles.
If I have one less enthusiastic comment to make, it’s that it’s too short and, exactly because it is so delightful, I wished for a more substantial, more in-depth storyline. But you know, if wishes were horses, I‘d be riding a unicorn too.
On the other hand, Timekeeper by Tara Sim is an elaborate, fairy tale-like Fantasy. It also features a golden boy trapped inside a tower and the lovely, conflicted, traumatised boy who falls for him.
A few weeks ago I was watching a documentary about trains. Hear me out, I swear this is interesting: until the end of 18th century there was no standard time in England—each town had its own time, depending on how far they were from Greenwich. But with the invention of trains, that discrepancy, as little as it sometimes was, became unsustainable and a standard GMT time was created to be followed all over England. In other words, humans shaped time.
In Tara Sim’s alternate world, it’s the other way around, time controls humans and reality itself. Time was created by the Gods and controlled by them – then one day the God who was in charge of time, gave a little of that power to humans. Once upon a time, there were towers and clocks created and those clocks set the time for the humans and towns around them. If a clock malfunctioned, the consequences could be as little as a minute lost here and there, to a complete Stop, when an entire town and everybody inside would become trapped in time.
Seventeen-year-old Danny Hart is a timekeeper, a mechanic who can feel time and fix clocks. He is recovering from a terrible accident that has left him traumatised. His healing process is a concern to his superiors because of the possible consequences of misreading time. This is also a problem because Danny’s father, another timekeeper, has been trapped in a Stopped town for three years, and Danny’s obsession with rescuing him depends on his ability to do his job well.
He is then assigned to a new town, Enfield, where the tower clocks keeps malfunctioning and his problems increase tenfold: the malfunctioning of the clock could be part of a suspicious series of bombings at nearby towers; his car breaks down and he doesn’t have the money to fix it; and his mother wants to move away. To make matters more complicated: Colton, the guy he thought was Enfield’s local apprentice, turns out to be a mythical-yet-very-real clock spirit. The relationship between clock spirits and humans is strictly forbidden because of possible consequences to time, but Colton and Danny find friendship, companionship, and love in each other’s arms.
Timekeeper is an intricate fantasy with many threads – there’s the fraught relationship between Danny and his mother; Danny’s continued feelings of guilt about his father; Danny’s recent trauma; his complex feelings for Colton; his relationship with his co-workers; and the continued threat to clock towers everywhere.
Featuring a complicated yet happy-ending relationship, Timekeeper is a lovely novel. I only wish Colton had been a more fleshed-out character, but if wishes were horses, I, too, would have more time.
In Booksmugglerish: 7 out of 10 to both novels