FICTION

The Serendipity of Flightless Things

Little Bee/Yellow Jacket. Aug. 2019. 320p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781499808438.
COPY ISBN
Gr 4-9–A captivating family legend lies at the heart of this novel set in Northern Ireland in the 1970s. Twelve-year-old Finn has been raised in equal parts by the faery stories that infuse her village, and her stern yet kind grandmother Nuala who is determined to keep Finn safe at all costs. Finn is transfixed by the tale of The Children of Lir, in which a young husband grieves for the loss of the mother of his three children by marrying her look-alike sister and having a fourth child. An unhappy family saga culminates in a good faery saving the three older children’s lives by turning them into swans. Lines between reality and fantasy blur for Finn, who suspects she is actually the youngest child and her grandmother is the good faery. Unfortunately, shortly after this magnetic premise is established, the book unravels into a confusion of plot holes and inconsistencies. The last third of the story displays illogical circumstances: Finn repeatedly escapes a captor only to choose to imprison herself again, a character with a broken ankle manages to walk all over the countryside and climb up a chimney, and another character addresses someone the narrator has just told us is not present.
VERDICT Not recommended. The inconsistent plot will likely end up confusing and losing young readers.

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