From Publishers Weekly
Travel into another dimension is a popular fantasy ploy, but rarely accomplished with such humor, terror and even logic as in this stand-alone by bestseller Williams (Tailchaser's Song, etc.). After losing his girlfriend, Theo Vilmos, a singer in a humdrum northern California rock band, finds in his late mother's remote cabin an amazing if incomplete manuscript left by his eccentric great-uncle, Eamonn Dowd, about a fairy world purportedly visited by its author. Unsurprisingly, Faerie turns out to be a real place. Applecore, a short-tempered, red-haired sprite, abruptly appears before Theo just as a horrifying monster starts banging on the door. At Applecore's command, Theo swoops her up and pops through "the Gate" into a magical realm that proves initially beguiling, later strange and finally deadly. Ironically, Faerie is a distorted image of our own world, ruled by cruel fairy tyrants. The powerful classes, each named for a flower, wage war against each other, using colossal dragons as the equivalents of nuclear bombs. Theo discovers love as well as unsuspected secrets of his own birth and family. Williams's imagination is boundless, and if this big book could have been shorter, it could just as easily have been longer. The incorrigible Applecore continually delights, as in her comment on a famous J.M. Barrie character: "`If you believe in fairies, clap your hands'? If you believe in fairies, kiss my rosy pink arse is more like it."
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Williams' latest is unsurprisingly large but is billed as a single-volume work, which is pretty flabbergasting coming from a writer addicted to series of massive tomes. The story begins with the fairly conventional device of a mundane (i.e., a person from our world) stumbling into Faerie. Marginal California rocker Theo Vilmos has just lost his pregnant girlfriend when he discovers an old, handwritten book in a rural cottage. The gritty and even rather grim faerie world to which it leads him is hardly a refuge from reality; indeed, it is so full of depressing details that those who are already somewhat down should consider reading the book only in bite-size chunks. The war of the title is one of numerous factions fighting among themselves, and with it, Williams darkly satirizes every sort and condition of politics, ideology, religion, and other human foibles, much as he did in the Otherland saga. Reader and hero alike remain in some confusion for some while, because Theo's Faerie guide, an obnoxious entity named Applecore, seems to have an agenda of his own and certainly has a stevedore's tongue. Williams has a supremely powerful, if not altogether disciplined, imagination, so that, like Theo, readers may feel they are encountering much that is dreary and dull on the way to the good parts. Roland GreenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved