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REVIEW Foul is Fair (Fair Folk Chronicles Book 1)
Foul is Fair starts with a dedication to Terry Pratchett. Then it ends with the acknowledgements. Sandwiched in between is a tale which I read in a single sitting (unintended) much to the chagrin of my bladder which is still convinced a restroom stop could have been planned in. The basis of the story, earthling girl discovers she is a faery princess, would usually serve to send me running five hundred miles screaming hysterically about well-trodden paths before sitting down to write a few books of my own based on that very same concept (I did, please read them). Fortunately Megan is a girl-less-ordinary who is a captive in a mundane world where she can only blend in by a wide selection of colourful medication approved by four out of four doctors who all know what is good for her. In this she has my instant sympathy. Once that has been established the reading experience is as if Screaming Lord Sutch marched into my head dancing the Monster Raving Loony Party conga conga. And, hey, we’ve reached the acknowledgements again.
I am very much minded of Tom Robbins’s seriocomedies and suspect that Cook and Perkins don’t exist at all. Instead Robbins got together with Neil Gaiman to devise a plot for which Brian and Wendy Froud collaborated with Arthur Rackham in Goblin Market modus to provide imagery whilst William Kotzwinkle provided a range of perspectives after which the whole was dictated to Lewis Carroll off his head on a cocktail of steroids and magic mushrooms.
Stephen King wrote: Sometimes stories cry out to be told in such loud voices that you write them just to shut them up. Foul is Fair certainly feels as if Cook & Perkins were bitten by that bug as we helter-skelter through a magical surreal yet familiar landscape in which we very much understand Megan who “wanted to memorize each sight to draw later, but always found her eyes wandering on to the next oddity.” As a reader I sometimes wanted to linger to savour the sights, smells and sounds presented to me but the narrative pace was unforgiving and relentless in its tenacity to helter-skelter into the next scene. It left me pleasurably dizzy at times but Megan, fortunately, is made of sterner stuff. I was much reminded of Malcolm Reynolds, strolling into absolute chaos which would send regular punters onto the streets with ‘the end is nigh’ signs only to make a general understatement or two which is both comic and efficiently practical. I am glad Firefly was mentioned in the book. I actually cheered when I came across it. Out loud. To consternation, etcetera.
Back to Faery, it’s more or less all explained by Megan’s “Right, nothing is what it seems.” Its diverse. It’s surreal. It’s familiar. It’s weird. It’s unpredictable and sometimes has vorpal teeth, tens of thousands of them or a single one, it doesn’t matter, what matters is that it can be dangerous, prickly and vindictive. This is fairyland as it ought to be, with the logical substance of Alice’s Wonderland providing a dreamtime whirlpool of quicksand as support. Meaning there is none, just let yourself go with the flow.
I loved the magic. The magic is musical. It’s musical magic. The magic of music and the music of magic (this bit will only make sense to you when you’ve read it). I loved Megan’s friend Lani and her family and I am going to stalk the authors and be a nuisance until they give me Cassia’s phone number so I can meet up with her and get disembowelled by her kittens. I am also going to have to get that bust of Pallas to see if I can entice Count to come in so that Ashling, who is good at explaining stuff, can describe to me the precise makeup of the rollercoaster ride I’ve been taken on. Basically, there’s nothing I don’t love about this book. My recommendation? Feed your head. Read this book. Then read it again and again and wait impatiently for the second part.