Faery Swap - A book review

One of the awesome things about the internet is that it makes it possible for you to be friends with so many people you might not meet in real life. Like a former rocket scientist and aerospace engineer turned speculative fiction author.

I have thoroughly enjoyed everything that I have read that Susan Kaye Quinn has written. If I were to get around to writing the novel in my head, I would try to make it the kind of story that changes you in some way, makes you more free, more aware, or at least, makes you think different when you've finished it. Susan comes pretty close to that in her writing. All of the things I have read by her were for older teens or adults, and not something I would give to my kids to read yet. So I was delighted when she announced she was releasing Faery Swap, a fantasy story for middle grade readers. Then she said she was taking the book on a blog tour and asked for reviews.



Well, I just happen to have a voracious middle grade reader in my house. Who better to write a review of a middle grade book? (Sneaky home schooler that I am, I'm all for getting my kid to write without making it sound like work.)

I went looking for a recent picture. This one of him goofing off in the back of a truck made me laugh.
 I will tell you that the Boy was a bit proud that he finished the book in less than a day, and a bit disappointed that it wasn't longer.

What follows are his words. I did help him with editing a bit, in terms of order.

Faery Swap is about a boy named Finn that does this swap with a faery warrior prince, and then is transported to this magical world while the faery prince takes over his body. Finn lives in the modern day time in England with his little sister. His mom died and he doesn't have a dad that takes care of him so much. Finn isn't happy to be in the otherworld. In the summer solstice the worlds are close enough for the spirits of the faeries to be able to go to earth and take over the body of a human and send the spirit of that human to the otherworld. 

Here's what happens. When it's still the summer solstice the faery spirits, called Anams, can inhabit a human body and can do magick on earth. When the solstice is over faeries in human bodies stay on earth until the next swap, which is a hundred years later in earth years, if they survive that long. Or they stay on earth until they die. If the faery leaves earth and goes back to the faery world the anam of the human stays in the otherworld and their body just dies. No human anam has ever been returned to it's body before.

I liked how it included faeries and the whole thing about dimensional worlds. She did a pretty good job of making it so the faery prince didn't actually act like Finn did at the beginning of the book, like he was getting used to acting like a modern human. If he acted the same way as the human right away it wouldn't have been as believable.

The thing I didn't understand was how does math go together with magick? 

In a book that included faeries, I expected the faeries to be rather mischievous. But they weren't really mischievous. All lot of the faeries were pretty stubborn though. Some of them were a bit stupid and evil, like the king and the kings servants. Except for the house of Ul and Glinn. They were opposing his house secretly because they knew that people would die if the earth and the otherworld were connected and they cared about the loss of faery AND human life.

If you like stories about magick and people with special powers, you might like this book. If you like stories with faeries, with sort of a cross between modern day and mythical then you'll probably like this book.

He had some questions about the book, so we emailed Susan and she answered right away, because she's awesome like that. Here it is.

The Boy-What culture did you get this from? It seems bit Irish.

Susan - In my story, the faery world was torn from Earth about 4000 years ago,
around the area near Stonehenge. In the real world at that time, a Celtic
(Irish) legend that says fairies descended from the Tuatha De Danaan (and
ancient people driven to another world by a wave of invaders). Some of the
legends say this "Otherworld" (which is what I call it in my story) is
called Tir Na Noog (Tír na nÓg ), and that there, time stands still. There
are many different stories about faeries (all the original stories were
oral, not written down), but one is the story of Oisin, a Celtic man, who
accidentally traveled to the Otherworld and then was dismayed when he
returned to find that 300 years had passed. I used some of this mythology to
create the backstory of my Faery Swap, and the idea that time stands still
in the Otherworld.


The Boy-Where did you get the idea for a spriggan?

Susan - Spriggans are http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spriggan real (mythical)
creatures from Cornish (English) faery lore. I used a picture from Faeries
by Brian Froud (a collection of faery art) to imagine what a spriggan would
look like. Then I used the idea of House Elves from Harry Potter to make
them loyal to a particular Faery House. Pyx's personality belongs all to
himself.

The Boy-Where did you get the idea that the faeries need to understand math to do
magick?

Susan - To me, mathematics seems kind of magical to begin with-in math, simple
numbers or symbols can capture tremendous knowledge into a simple equation
(like E=MC2). When I think of magic, I think of incantations and spells and
symbols... just like math. Add in that the faeries in my story use
dimensional magick-basically manipulating the spacetime forces around
them-and it makes sense that an understanding of math and physics would
enhance their ability to do that kind of magick. Also: I just think math is
cool.

Thanks Susan, for writing such a fun book, and giving me something different to do to encourage my son to write and answering his questions.

You can get your own copy of Faery Swap, in print or your e reader of choice. Check it out.

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