While occasionally flirting with full-blown fantasy ( The Tooth Fairy ), Graham Joyce more often writes novels that exist on the very edges of the genre, in which elements of the supernatural are delicately woven into the real-world plots like gossamer threads ( Smoking Poppy , The Facts Of Life ). In these stories, the fantasy elements are like magic from a unseen parallel universe that seeps into ours almost unnoticed, only affecting – often almost imperceptibly – one character. Anything odd or bizarre that happens would either be missed by most other characters or easily rationalised.
In Some Kind Of Fairytale Joyce tackles this theme head on. The central mystery is enticingly simple. Tara, a girl who went missing as a teenager, returns to her parents’ house nearly 20 years later, looking barely any older. She claims that she’s been away with the fairies – not her exact words, but the interpretation her sceptical relatives and ex-boyfriend glean from her story – and that for her only six months have passed. When her family send her to a shrink to get “real” answers, she willingly agrees, hoping it will prove her tale is true.
The book is as much about the effect Tara’s disappearance had on her family and friends as it is about discovering the veracity of her story. Full of engaging characters, moments of beautiful prose, and Joyce’s trademark ability to evoke the magic in the English countryside, it’s an utterly beguiling and deceptively complex tale, with a teasing conclusion that makes you want to read it all over again immediately.
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