Friday, June 3, 2016

Street Fair - Jeffrey Cook and Katherine Perkins (Fair Folk Chronicles #2)

Street Fair (Fair Folk Chronicles, #2)Street Fair is the second book in Jeffrey Cook and Katherine Perkins' Fair Folk Chronicles.  It follows Megan, a teenager who has recently discovered that she's a half-faerie princess, and her friends as the Goblin Market comes to town, and brings with it a host of unforeseen trouble that deals with Gaelic mythology, particularly that of Balor and the Fomoiri.

I had some difficulty with the first of the Fair Folk Chronicles because it really made faeries much more sugary-sweet than they are traditionally said to be.  That's still the case here; despite a bit of a bloodthirsty toast at one point, even the Unseelie court is kind of like a bunch of teenagers who just like to hang around and play pranks on each other rather than be menacing in any meaninful way.  The Seelie court is basically all sweetness and light.  Ashling the pixie continues to annoy me beyond all reason.  However, the story as a whole appealed to me and agreed with me much more, and that's because of the topic.  The integration of the Fomoiri and Balor really hit a sweet spot for me, and I can tell you exactly why: because I associate it with Diane Duane's Young Wizards series, and specifically the fourth book, A Wizard Abroad, which deals with the same subject though in a different way.  That actually really helped re-orient myself regarding how to look at this book.  Until that topic started to come in, I was looking at the Fair Folk books as young adult books, but they're really not.  I can't remember exactly how old the main characters are (though Lani can drive, so they must be about sixteen), but in writing and subject, these books are much more middle-grade than young adult.  There is very light kissing, but also a lot of parental supervision and the whole thing is very clean, which is really more characteristic of the middle-grade than the young-adult age group these days.  The same goes for the Young Wizards books.

As for the book itself... This is obviously much more of a "series" book than the first one is.  It has a plot of its own, albeit one that involves a lot of running around and not actually doing a much, The integration of these parts of Gaelic mythology are pretty cool, and I think it would be a good way to get younger readers interested in such topics.  But it also sets up for a continuance, which the first book in the series didn't.  Book 3 (A Fair Fight) will clearly deal with the set-up from here, and I'm curious to see if the fourth book (All's Fair) will continue on from Book 3 or if it will be more of a standalone story like the the first volume was.  Seeing Megan gain some more control of her abilities, and realize some of the repercussions of dealing with faeries, was pretty neat.  At the same time, though, much of the book did end up reading like set-up for the next one.  Some of the elements also didn't seem to fit for me.  For example, the main villain is known as the Butterfly Collector to the main characters, and apparently is the person who was behind the ruination of Ashling's wings.  But he doesn't seem to have done this more than once; now, I'm not saying that it's not bad to have only done it once, because clearly it was, but why Collector?  That indicates multiple times.  Was this something that was brought up in Book 1 but that I forgot?  If so, disregard, but it was a bit discordant to me.  Also, as I mentioned before, the plot seems to involve a lot of running around and fight scenes, but very little of that actually advanced the plot.  It was more filler until the higher-ups decided to do something--and most of it was incredibly stupid of the characters to do in the first place, something that they acknowledged but then proceeded on with anyway because "there weren't other options" even though there really were.

I'm interested to see where the next book here goes; there are definitely indications that all chaos is about to break loose.  Now that I've been able to re-orient my view of these books, they do agree with me more, and I think these would be good options for middle-grade students interested in mythology-based fantasy--but I would not go so far as to put them as young adult, given that the heavier themes characteristic of young adult books are pretty much entirely absent in this series.

3.5 stars out of 5.

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