Bad Luck Girl

368p. (The American Fairy Trilogy: Bk. 3). Random House. May 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780375869402; lib. ed. $20.99. ISBN 9780375969409; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780375983207. LC 2013013855.
Gr 6 Up—In this final book in the series, Callie's 16th birthday is marked by warring fairy kingdoms fighting for control of her magical gift: the ability to open gates between worlds. Set during the Great Depression, the fast-paced action takes readers from Los Angeles to Chicago to the very heart of the fairy world. Callie is the biracial daughter of a fairy prince and a devoted human mother, and in Chicago, she meets the "Halfers," beings neither human nor fairy. With her characteristic kindness and sense of justice, Callie befriends the shunned Halfers and realizes that her choice of allegiance is not just between the fairy and the human worlds. The ingenious, sensitive description of the Halfers, who live in magical shanty town for exiles, is particularly affecting, with a paper bag girl and a rat-faced boy. The setting, premise, genre-blending, and themes of race and acceptance sound like the makings for an overcrowded book, but Zettel pulls it off. Her strong characterizations, historical detail, and carefully constructed fantastic elements create a high-energy literary fusion that fans will devour.—Martha Baden, Prescott Public Library, AZ
Half-fairy, half-human Callie (Golden Girl; Dust Girl) has reunited with her family, thus starting a war between the two fairy kingdoms. Fleeing Los Angeles for Chicago, Callie realizes that to end the war she must stand and fight. Zettel brings the street life, locales, and culture of jazz-age Chicago into the imagery of her fantasy, packing the story with incident and adventure.
Half-fairy, half-human Callie LeRoux (Golden Girl, rev. 7/13; Dust Girl, rev. 6/12) has reunited with her family but in doing so has started a war between the two fairy kingdoms, the "midnight Unseelies and the shining Seelies." Callie, her friend Jack, and her parents manage to flee Los Angeles, but by the time they've arrived in Chicago, Callie realizes that the only way to resolve the war is to stand and fight. This is also when she discovers the downside of having an authoritarian Unseelie fairy prince for a father, not to mention an aptitude for calamitous decision-making herself. It's not until she has (deservedly) earned the name Bad Luck Girl that she can see her way to cooperating with a plan that ends in triumph. Zettel brings the street life, locales, and culture of jazz-age Chicago into the imagery of her fantasy, packing the story with incident, adventure, and even, on the sidelines, information. Of her fantastical creations, the Halfers are particularly memorable -- "half anything and everything and half magic all shook together and coming up alive." The plot, with its various conflicts, loyalties, and parties, is an intricate, overly busy tangle, but the story maintains momentum through Callie's consistent obstinacy and the author's enthusiasm for her setting. deirdre f. baker

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