Some time ago, when Blackbringer was newish, I got an email from an author who'd recently sold her first book (which would be published in 2009). She told me that when she saw my book, she was afraid that I'd written her book before she did. (And I do know writers who've had that happen, really and truly, as if their fickle muse gave the same idea to several writers at the same time!) I mean, on the cover of my book was a faerie with dragonfly wings and a knife and a crow. Her book at the time was titled Knife, and it too, as the title would suggest, was about a small female faerie with dragonfly wings and a knife, and her book had crows in it too. She said she read Blackbringer while at the hospital late with her son who had (I think) broken his arm, and she was relieved to discover that our books, besides sharing some basic elements, were not alike.
Well, I've finally gotten a chance to read R.J. Anderson's book, which came out last week! It's been retitled Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter (though the UK edition retained the title Knife) and it was really interesting to me to see how some of the same ideas that I worked with in creating Dreamdark are present in it, and yet how, from those ideas and intrigues, arises a completely different story. One that I enjoyed immensely!
In both books faeries live secretly tucked into this real world, humans all unaware of them, and in both books faeries are past their golden age. Their magic is dwindling, and their memories of it too. The faeries of Spell Hunter are much worse off than my own Dreamdark faeries: ever since a mysterious event called the Sundering, they have had no magic. The book begins in an oak tree in which a fading faerie colony is eking out an existence without magic. There are only female faeries, and when they die they leave in their place an egg, from which will hatch a daughter. Bryony is the only young faerie growing up in the oak, and from the book's first line she longs to leave its confines and explore. But it's a world of dangerous predators out there -- crows and foxes, not to mention humans -- and only the Gatherers venture out, to glean food for the rest. And of course there's the Queen's Hunter, in whose footsteps Bryony is destined to follow.
The oak is in a human garden, and Bryony's fate is entwined with that of the human son, Paul, who's a child when she first lays eyes on him, and a young man when they finally meet. I don't want to give away too much about the story, which goes in directions I never predicted, so I'll just say that Bryony is intent on discovering what has befallen her people, leaving them not only without magic but prey to a terrible wasting disease called the Silence. Her quest to understand will bring her into the human world in ways she could never have imagined. It's a lovely story with an unexpected aura of romance and a delicious unfolding of secrets that, in the end, reveal an original vision of the world of faeries. Check it out!
Here's the UK cover, with art by Brian Froud, god of all things Faerie:
Anyway, congratulations to Rebecca for a beautiful debut book. Wishing you a wonderful year!