From Publishers Weekly
It has been 20 years since the war between faeries and humans destroyed everything. Liza, a teenager living in what was once the Midwest, has always been taught that magic kills. When Lizas mother gives birth to a faerie baby with hair clear as glass, her father abandons the infant on a hillside to die; Lizas mother then runs away, and Liza begins to have magical visions of her own. Petrified that her powers might cause death, Liza flees into the woods with her friend Matthew, only to be attacked by deadly trees and rescued by a woman with magic. The plot quickens as Liza realizes that the woman is connected to her mothers past, knowledge that propels Liza into a dangerous journey into the land of Faerie, in search of her mother. Debut novelist Simners style is poetic (A land of steel and glass, of towers and sharp angles. A sky the color of dried blood), but she only vaguely describes Lizas world. Its hard to understand how, for example, a faerie differs from humans with magical powers, or what triggered the cataclysmic faerie war. Despite the murkiness, the plotting is strong, and readers will want to stay with Liza until her questions are resolved. Ages 12–16. (Jan.)
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Simner’s first novel for YAs is an attention-catching twist of two piping-hot speculative scenarios—a postapocalyptic-wasteland journey layered upon a faerie-world-intruding-upon-our-own setup. A war between our world and a faerie world has left the planet a ruined and perilous wilderness. People huddle in the remains of towns, afraid to venture out at night, and swiftly put to death any child suspected of having been infected by the faerie fallout. When Liza discovers that she may have magical abilities, she flees town, and eventually seeks out answers in the equally ruined faerie realm. Simner’s world-building leans heavily on atmospherics in lieu of specifics, and the foggy descriptions of magic are even tougher to get a handle on. But the mood is strikingly dark, and questions regarding humankind’s tendency toward suspicion and xenophobia will loom large in readers’ minds. Much information is frustratingly withheld from both Liza and the reader, and many questions are left unanswered, but this will still garner a share of fans for its unusual and unsettling vision of a magically dystopian future. Grades 7-10. --Ian Chipman