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In the past few years the fairy-tale retelling and deconstruction has blossomed into its own micro-genre. Sometimes it is whimsical, sometimes it is dark and ponderous. But only rarely does it have this level of gravitas. So more true when it isn't just fairy tales we're dealing with, but iconic holiday characters such as Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. I first read this book several years ago, and back then the idea that the Tooth Fairy could be a serious, formidable, and tragic character seemed ridiculous. We now live in a media world where this kind of concept is much more common, and people's suspension of disbelief allows for this kind of storytelling. But I've never seen a Tooth Fairy like this. And until you read this book, neither have you.
Everyone who loves the old stories and the power they still contain, who still believes, somewhere underneath the ironic cynicism we all wear, that holidays are magical, should read For Love Of Children. Sometimes it is profoundly sad, but hope and joy are never completely lost. I highly recommend this book.
This book put a face and a purpose and a hope into all those childish myths and legends, even the sinister darkness that in the end gives way to generous self sacrifice (don't worry; I'm not giving the story away) Whew...it was riveting. As an allegorical novel, it makes one think of the earth and the legends and all the stories, untruths, lies told, wonders revealed...all of human history unfolding in the tales we tell. As a modern day "fairy tale", it stands on its own as a good fun book to curl up with on a snowy afternoon.
It would definitely make a great movie...Tim Burton, Stephen Spielberg...are you listening?
Taking place sometime after World War II, the world's beloved fairy tale characters are losing faith in humanity, and who can blame them? The war to end all wars (again) has left nations in crisis, while surviving powers jockey for position. America settles into its atomic throne driving a disenfranchised Saint Nicholas to find the perfect present for the eastern block.
Let's try not to leave out the others in the odd lot. The Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Mother Goose, and others are all struggling to accept the international horrors of the modern era each in their own disorder influenced way.
A happy well adjusted person does not collect the teeth of children.
I don't want to say too much, but if you enjoy the writing of Neil Gaiman, Margaret Weis, Peter David, or Neil Stephenson, then you will really dig this book. I did.
Snyder's debut novel opens up a whole new world of adventure, providing depth and texture to characters you just thought you knew. The heroes and villains might be from fairy tales but this story is treated as serious business. No parodies or tongue-in-cheek humor. There are moments that will make you laugh but it's part of the scene. The characters themselves are not the butt of anyone's joke.
Actually, I was impressed with the realism of the story. There's new insight into Nicholas' origin, as well as an explanation on where elves really come from. Peter was an interesting character that you can't help feeling sorry for. His life isn't all painted eggs and Easter Sundays. Likewise, the plight of the last fairy adds more reality than I expected to the person we all know as the Tooth Fairy... and yes, there is an explanation as to why she takes teeth.
My favorite part? One of the background stories involves learning Peter's origin. The revelation is awesome; one of the best twists I've ever encountered.
Don't make a fatal mistake that could lead to awkward moments by reading this to your son or daughter. The main characters might be Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, but this isn't a children's book. There's war, blood and death. It's not excessive but this definitely isn't Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Part Two. Jolly ol' Santa can be a conniving dude when he needs to be, and both Peter and the fairy are able to open up a serious can of whoop-ass when they need to... and they do need to a couple of times.
If you're open to the idea of Santa and other holiday icons being portrayed in a different light then For Love of Children is the book for you, and it has the added bonus of probably being the only Santa Claus story that can be read at other times besides Christmas.