Monday, March 4, 2013


nancy werlin
dial books
published 2010

Phoebe finds herself drawn to Mallory, the strange and secretive new girl at school. Soon the two become as close as sisters . . . until Mallory’s magnetic older brother, Ryland, appears. Ryland has an immediate, exciting hold on Phoebe — but a dangerous hold, for she begins to question her feelings about her best friend and, worse, about herself. Soon she’ll discover the shocking, fantastical truth about Ryland and Mallory, and about an age-old debt they expect Phoebe to pay. Will she be strong enough to resist? Will she be special enough to save herself? 

This was a strange read for me.  On one hand I felt like it was amazingly magical yet steeped quite heavily in real life, but on the other I couldn't quite love the characters enough to care for their fate.

Phoebe is born into a family of exceptional people, or at least to a mother who is exceptional and despite her extraordinary ancestors, she feels that at any moment she will be revealed to be less than.  And ultimately, this is what dooms her.

Of course, we don't really believe in faeries.  We might, a little, but we don't truly expect to find them walking among us.  But somehow, Nancy Werlin's tale of faerie treachery is scarily real.  Mallory and Ryland's job is to systematically break Phoebe down until she admits to herself and to anyone else that she is ordinary.  That she is nothing.  Mallory tries to accomplish this by betraying a friendship years in the making.  Ryland's methods are much more effective and scarily familiar.  He uses love, or at least the desire to be loved.

The perfect example of a mentally abusive boyfriend Ryland demeans her, affectionately calls her 'stupid' and ridicules her while keeping his voice smooth and alluring.  Of course, Phoebe falls for it as so many other women have.  And I think this is why I couldn't fully love the book.  Yes, Werlin does a wonderful job at telling the story.  The scenes were vivid, the characters seemingly well thought out, but the ease at which Ryland breaks Phoebe down left a bitter taste in my mouth.  That she so quickly falls for it, for everything, was disappointing.

But then there is this moment when the book changes and I found myself unwilling to put it down.  Isn't that what we want in a book?  Still, even in the end I found myself wanting for something so I can't say I fully enjoyed the book, but it did whet my appetite enough that I will look forward to coming across more of Werlin's novels.

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