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The Uncertain Places Paperback – June 15, 2011

3.7 out of 5 stars 41 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Goldstein (The Red Magician) plays around with forgotten fairy tales in this decades-spanning mixture of romance and fantasy. In 1971, Berkeley sophomore Will Taylor falls hard for Livvy Feierabend, though there's something strange about the laissez-faire, eccentric Feierabend family, whose members apparently lead charmed, prosperous lives. When Livvy falls into an enchanted sleep, Will discovers that a German folktale ties the Feierabends' success to sacrifice. To awaken Livvy, Will must outfox the fairy folk, a slow-burning process that takes nearly 20 years. This leisurely, lyrical tale owes much to old school mythic fictionists like Charles de Lint and Terri Windling. The fictional folktale of the Bondmaid feels utterly authentic, but the novel's pacing is off, and there's just too much crammed into a relatively short book. This mostly satisfying story could have been even better with more room to play. (June)

Review

“An exquisitely beautiful, eerily compelling modern fairy tale.”
—Library Journal, starred review

“Exemplary . . . Goldstein is one of fantasy’s most reliable practitioners, and a new novel from her is always a cause for celebration.”
—San Francisco Chronicle

“The Uncertain Places continued to surprise me at every page and, as a writer, filled me with raw, disgraceful envy: Boy I wish I’d thought of this one.”
—Peter S. Beagle, author of A Fine & Private Place and Sleight of Hand

“Lisa Goldstein is back and at the top of her game.”
—Shelf Awareness

“The arrival of a new Goldstein fantasy is a major cause for rejoicing. And The Uncertain Places does not disappoint.”
—io9.com

“Has it really been nine years since The Alchemist’s Door, Lisa Goldstein’s last book under her own byline? It’s been a long wait, but The Uncertain Places is one of those delightful books that are worth the wait. It combines all the things that I like best about Goldstein’s work: great, believable characters; a well-defined setting (this time it’s 1970s Berkeley); and subtle magic that plays by the rules.”
—Charles de Lint, Fantasy & Science Fiction

"It’s an interesting question that Goldstein poses, and there is no easy answer to be found. What constitutes a ‘happy ever after’ for one person may bring misery to another. Perhaps the stories of one continent cannot survive transplantation to another without being somehow changed in the process. No matter how carefully hidden away they might be, sooner or later, as the territory is charted, they’re brought into the light of day. It’s what happens then that Goldstein has so intriguingly explored in this deeply absorbing novel."
—Paper Knife

“Goldstein’s complex and ingenious plot transplants the forest realm of European folktale, where witches grant wishes with strings attached and you’d better be careful which frog you kiss, into the sun-drenched hills of Northern California in the 1970s— and beyond.”
—Ursula K. Le Guin

“This entrancing book perfectly captures the subconscious logic of fairy tales—you’ll find yourself believing it all and wishing you could go to these places yourself, with all their wonders and perils.”
—Tim Powers, author of The Stress of Her Regard and The Bible Repairman and Other Stories

“It’s fitting that a spider is the symbol of the elf-struck family in this book, because Lisa Goldstein’s prose is more than a little like a spider’s web: so deceptively simple that you could take it for granted until the angle of light changes and its full beauty is suddenly revealed...a tale as tangling, tricksy, and enchanted as the Fair Folk themselves.”
—Tad Williams, author of Tailchaser’s Song

“From Lisa Goldstein, one of our most subtle and enduring writers, comes this exquisite interweaving of fairy tale and modern life. The Uncertain Places demonstrates that love and the stuff of legends are sometimes indistinguishable and share the same dark bed.”
—Lucius Shepard

“A gripping story that twists with compelling dream logic; Goldstein’s fairy-tale family radiate believable unreality, and the faerie realm contained herein evinces the perfect mix of terror and attraction. Start reading this at your peril; once I did, I couldn’t stop until I was done.”
—Cory Doctorow, author of Content and Context

“Goldstein fearlessly rubs the dreamlike logic of fairy tales up against stark realism, and each one makes the other more real.”
—BoingBoing.net

“It’s an engaging look at Northern California in the ’70s by way of the Brothers Grimm...a shrewd and satisfying venture down the crooked paths and unpredictable byways of the Otherworld.”
—Patricia A. McKillip, author of Wonders of the Invisible World

“It’s all about family values: ancient legacies, young love, dumb luck, and home cooking. And no one understands better than Lisa Goldstein that terror is a dish best served cold.”
—Terry Bisson, author of Greetings and Other Stories and Number Don’t Lie

“Warning: This book contains graphic scenes of nonconsensual housekeeping.”
—The Juggler

“Goldstein is in fine form with a darkly compelling modern fairy tale.”
—January Magazine

"Lisa Goldstein is the perfect, born storyteller."
—Diana Wynne Jones

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Beyond your wildest dreams
From DC & Neil Gaiman, The Sandman arises only on Audible. Listen free with trial

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3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5
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Kev McVeigh
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantasy at its best
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 22, 2013
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