Forget cute fairies in pretty dresses. In the world of Aluvia, most fairies are more like irritable, moody insects, and almost everyone views the fairy keeper mark as a gift. But not 14-year-old Sierra. She hates being a fairy keeper, but the birthmark is right there on the back of her neck. It shows everyone she was born with the natural ability to attract and even control the tiny fairies whose nectar is amazingly powerful.
Fairy nectar can heal people, but it is also a key ingredient in synthesizing Flight, an illegal elixir that produces hallucinations. She's forced to care for a whole hive of the bee-like beasties by her Flight-dealing, dark alchemist father.
Then one day, Sierra discovers the fairies of her hatch are mysteriously dead. The fairy queen is missing. Her father's Flight operation is halted, and he plans to make up for the lost income by trading her little sister to be an elixir runner for another dark alchemist, a dangerous thug. Desperate to protect her sister, Sierra convinces her father she can retrieve the lost queen.
The problem? Sierra's queen wasn't the only queen to disappear. They're all gone, and getting them back will be deadly dangerous.
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The narrator was fantastic. I enjoyed the system and culture of magic presented here, which I found to be interesting and original.
Elements of the story, specifically the societal treatment of children, struck me as similar to the sociology of The Hunger Games, minus the political backdrop. In some ways, that aspect was handled better in this book.
Nell. But really, the narrator did a wonderful job with the whole cast, both male and female.
The ending, which I will not reveal here.
Solid MG debut novel, using endangered fairies as an allegory for colony collapse syndrome and broader environmentalist issues, as well as touching on addiction and forced labor. Heady stuff for young readers, but it is handled deftly, in a way that leaves a lot of room for discussion and teaching moments. I loved the premise of this book, as well as the world, which is presented as something of a run-down high fantasy setting. The story follows a more-or-less traditional quest arc, with some nice twists and turns, and a few surprises. I greatly enjoyed listening to this, and look forward to the rest of the series.
- Edward A.