I have to admit, I devoured Fairy Senses in two days, curled up in my room feeling like a happy little girl again. Frances Ruiz has crafted a delightful little story here, mixing elements of Harry Potter and Anne McCaffrey with a batch of likeable characters in an imaginative fairyland.
The story unfolds around Kelly, who wakes up on the eve of her fourteenth birthday to find a fat little winged man raiding her refrigerator. The reason she can see him turns out to be that she is, much to her surprise, half fairy herself. Her mixed heritage makes her a fadaman, a rare blend that has “the strengths of both species and few of the weaknesses.”
This revelation causes her to question the stories her mother has told her regarding the identity of her father, who was supposed to have died in a fire before she was born. Before Kelly has a chance to fully absorb what she’s learned, though, she is kidnapped by two men claiming to be Homeland Security (the story takes place in Washington D.C.), who actually work for Marcos Witherings, a presidential candidate who just happens to be a fadaman too.
Kelly’s journey eventually lands her in Glendenland, a delicious little fairyland located in a network of invisible bubbles in the Potomac River. She must develop her magical talents and learn to work and play with her new friends, while fending off telepathic intimidation from Witherings and his father, the evil fairy Miasmos. The fairy world is preparing for war against Miasmos and his followers, who are kidnapping fairies to steal their energy and increase their own power, and Kelly has a crucial role to play in the upcoming battle.
From an editorial standpoint, Fairy Senses reads quite smoothly. There are a scattered handful of typos and misused words, a bit of a pattern of redundant phrasing, and a few less-than-delicately-interwoven expository passages. But I suspect that the young girls who will make up the core of this book’s audience won’t even notice these issues, and in fact will probably find the text more pleasant to read than a great many traditionally-published books.
Ruiz’s writing carries the story along with a gentle simplicity that is both charming and addictive. Older readers may not find many surprises in the storyline, and many of the conflicts that arise are solved suspiciously easily. But this is a YA book, and a fantasy to boot, and it can be so nice to read something that flows along like a daydream. Long after I closed the book, I could feel my imagination humming with golden fairy wings and underwater castles. I would happily read the next in the series, and recommend this endearing fairy tale to any child (or child at heart!) who fancies a simple, magical read.