There will be no witty intro.
Because this book has left a genuine hole in my heart from loving it too much.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am absolutely distraught. Recently I got to meet a rather fabulous author named Ruth Frances Long. Her work has been recommended to me before, only now have I had a chance to sample it. So I started reading her most recent book The Treachery of Beautiful Things…and a terrible thing happened.
I finished it.
Now, I’m sure you’re all familiar with the feeling of reading a wonderfully crafted, heart wrenchingly gripping book for the first time. The last page is a personal torment for me, when it comes to books like these. Reading that final section is like having an itty bitty piece of your heart carefully dissected and stapled, very neatly, onto that page. On several occasions I said to myself, ‘I’ll stop reading now and save some for later.’ as if the book was some kind of gourmet dessert I could only have after roast dinners on Sunday. Of course, I didn’t stop. I couldn’t put it down. I actually finished it on my lunch break in work today. All time leading up to that break was spent trying to make time, somehow, GO FASTER. And afterwards… well I’m pretty sure that some people in work were wondering how I had suddenly transformed from this ball of pure energy into a less vocal version of Moaning Myrtle. Moping over her un-priced stock and occasionally sighing dreamily into the Bestseller Shelves.
If you hadn’t noticed already, I rather loved this book. I’m just going to launch into my frantic squeal-like review now. I am still barely managing trying to get my brain to describe my experience of reading this book without it creating a giant lump in my throat:
The Treachery of Beautiful Things
“The trees swallowed her brother whole. And Jenny was there to see it.”
Devastated and emotionally scarred by the strange abduction of her brother seven years ago, seventeen year old Jenny returns to confront the place that took her brother. Of course, instead of a getting some sense of resolution for her suffering she wanders in to the suspenseful grip of the most beautifully terrifying world, hidden in plain sight from her for so many years. A curiously stunning Realm of the Fearie. And so, determined to seek out her brother (now held captive as a Piper for the Fey Queen Titania) Jenny is guided through the labyrinth of an enchanted forest, full of flourishing beauty and stinging deception, by an Jack o’ the Forest (whose name -of course- is Jack and whose motives are just as questionable as the dark little creatures that lurk in the forest).
Initially I didn’t expect the transcendence of worlds to happen the way that it did, but the technique employed really allows Ruth Frances Long to really immerse you into the mischief and magic that courses through the veins of the story. Poor Jenny has a tough start (Folletti and Pixies and Redcaps, Oh My!) and the line between trust and treachery is always slightly blurred. In the true spirit of a faerie story, everything down to the food she craves has the potential to doom our heroine. Needless to say, her journey was captivating to read. Ruth’s depictions of the fey are beautifully ornate in their language and just as bitter in the moment of their unveiled darkness. This is where the story’s title rings an absolute, resounding truth in it’s nature. The Realm is rife with a complex web of lies and mixed loyalties, the turmoil of which is shown mostly through the guiding characters of Jack (OH, Jack…) and Puck (a hobgoblin). Of course, the overbearingly beautiful and dangerous Queen Titania and King Oberon eerily stalk the narrative, as soon as Jenny is thrown into their world. Always testing the strength of Jenny’s will as well as the kindness of her heart (something that is apparently lacking in the faerie realm) until Jenny is pushed to make some devastating choices towards her journey’s end.
Overall… I loved LOTS of things about this book. I loved the Ruth’s depiction of the Realm. A beautiful, addictive world shadowed by lies and sacrifice. Not being an expert on faerie lore, I was really fascinated by some of the creatures introduced and their connection to the story, particularly the Kobold (also, DRAGONS!) opened up an entirely new perspective for me. I also really loved the story’s acknowledgment of intertwining lores and mythical characters. Ruth, you’re a girl after my own heart.
As well as the actual fantasy world being awesome, the descriptions and tone of the language flowed perfectly with the atmosphere of the realm. I don’t think I can use the word ‘beautiful’ enough to describe language and descriptions in this book. Which is funny, in that the title suggests I really shouldn’t rely on that particular feature…
However, underneath all of the exquisite faerie madness is a pretty good story about a young, rather naive girl learning to conquer her fears, whatever form they might take (Like a baby Leczi. I now really want a pet baby Leczi). Sure, she’s frustrating at first. But, Jenny sure as hell comes into her own through all of the treachery and pain. And there’s quite a lot of that, the source of which is mostly Jack. Ah, Jack o’ the Forest. He proved to be a really strong character. Steadfast in his position as an oath bound guardian while also maintaining a less stable role as a perfectly quirky and confusing love interest for a romance that was weaned quite carefully into this well woven fantasy story. Loved it.
All things considered I found this book quite a dream to read. It is a magnetically magical, stand alone story that really holds its own. If you’re a fan of fantasy romance, please do yourself a favour and read this book. Ruth Frances Long has created something amazing. She is definitely a force to be reckoned with in the world of Young Adult Fantasy and I certainly look forward to reading more of her work.
In addition to The Treachery of Beautiful Things rocking my world, I will probably find myself wandering out to the tiny patch of trees at the end of my garden to wait for something to guide me to a magical faerie realm. Thanks to this book, I’d like to think that I’ve graduated from ‘Survival Guide to Fairyland 101’.
In other words, I’m totally ready Titania. Bring it.
Ahem. Please excuse me while I go throw myself into a Clive Barker novella in order to mourn my finishing of this book and to quell my fragile nerves.