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Friday Reads: Some Kind of Fairy Tale

Happy Friday Gollancz Blog readers and welcome back to our weekly #FridayReads wherein a member of Team Gollancz shares with you a book we can’t stop talking about. Whether its an upcoming new release, an old favorite or a hot genre title this is the place for to find your perfect weekend reading selection. This week Simon tells you why you should read SOME KIND OF FAIRY TALE (available in stores and online from the 21st June).

Graham Joyce’s SOME KIND OF FAIRY TALE is another deceptively simple, richly told, wonderfully heart-felt novel from a World Fantasy and multiple British Fantasy Award-winning author. I consider it my greatest personal failing as a publisher that Graham Joyce is not read by hundreds of thousands of readers. This is a man who has something for everyone yet delivers that something with an understated elegance that makes you feel he is leaning forward and telling you alone this story; his voice quietly compelling.

I simply do not understand why everyone doesn’t read him. Sigh. But life’s like that isn’t it?

Joyce writes about everyday people who find themselves on the fringes of everyday life. Whether they are there because they live on the fringes of society or because of an experience that everyday life cannot quite explain, or both, these are people we know and understand trying to understand a strangeness that is changing them. We can put ourselves in their shoes and feel what they are going through. And in the meantime we can enjoy Joyce’s neatly wrought and economic prose, his clear insight and share his joy and belief in an affecting story.

In SOME KIND OF FAIRY TALE a man who has made his own family is called back to the broken family he comes from when his parents call him one Christmas morning to tell him that his sister has turned up. Nothing odd in that you might think but twenty years ago his sister walked into the local woods and disappeared into thin air. For two decades he has assumed she is dead while his parents have clung onto an insane hope. Now that hope has been answered and his sister is back. But her stories of half a lifetime spent travelling around the world don’t ring true and the years have been really kind. She’s hardly changed since the day she left.

It soon becomes clear that something strange has happened to his sister. She left the family home but she went somewhere else in the woods. And the woods are not finished with her, or with her family yet. As he investigates what has happened the brother begins to realise that the woods have an interest in his own daughter. Who is the man he has glimpsed talking to her beneath the hawthorn tree at their gate?

Infused with a deep knowledge of fairy tale, folk and country lore this is a book that is reminiscent of Angela Carter, Rob Holdstock and Joanne Harris. With its sharply drawn, very real characters, it cuts to the core of family relationships but is also imbued with a sense of mystery and faerie. This is what magical realism is all about it. It should be what fantasy is all about. It’s simple and simply brilliant.