With that said, "Faerie Wars" is one of my favorite books, and for a very specific reason. It's unique and funny without straying and becoming overly tongue-and-cheek or childish in the process. This book covers a lot of ground in its 367 pages. The main characters are compelling, one with a fiery heart and strong motivation, the other a person who lacks those very two qualities, which makes for an interesting and fun character dynamic. The atmosphere in the book is incredible. Herbie Brennan cultivates a world so rich in detail, colors, scent, taste, etc. that you wish you were there, despite the evils that threaten to engulf it. (Hey, it's a fantasy book. What would a fantasy book be without the threat of an overwhelming evil on the horizon, right?) However, Brennan even finds a way to twist this, creating villains who aren't what they seem, and change, very realistically and surprisingly, more than once.
Another distinguishing factor that makes this book great, is voice. Herbie Brennan manages to convey the events that are taking place through the eyes of the character while at the same time injecting the thoughts of the narrator skillfully amidst the thoughts of the character. Brennan also manages to deftly juggle the story line from one character to the next, not leaving every break between characters with a cliff-hanger, but with just the right touch of suspense, compelling you to keep reading. The combined effect of these techniques results in a vortex-like effect, sucking you in and holding your attention until either you fall asleep from exhaustion, your light source runs out, or you read all the way through to the end.
All in all, I can't think of hardly anything that weighs this book down, but the pro's go as follow.
*Enjoyable characters and character dynamics
*A world so rich in detail and atmosphere, you won't want to leave.
*Villains whose wickedness holds your attention, and who's unique personalities almost outshine the main characters'. In short: thoroughly enjoyable bad-guys.
*A plot line that keeps you guessing, smiling, tense and enthralled all at the same time, boasting an amazingly minimal amount of plot-holes. Three cheers for Herbie Brennan!
*Skillful transitions from character to character and easy flowing changeovers from voice to voice.
***Note: this con will vary from person to person. It all depends on what bothers you***
*Several sadistic scenes involving the villains of the story, as well as a small theme of controversy involving lesbians and a few descriptive scenes of gore involving black magic.
All in all, seeing as the controversy and slight violence/gore of the story doesn't upset me, I look at this book as one of the greatest accomplishments of it's genre, and a book that is so atmospheric and well-written, you won't want to put it down. Now THAT'S the mark of a great book.
These two characters collide when a portal from Pyrgus's world lands him in the backyard garden of Mr. Fogarty, Henry's elderly, somewhat paranoid employer with a genius for invention and a surprisingly shady past.
There are plots worth pursuing in both worlds, but those from mundane England are given short shrift here. Instead, Irish author Herbie Brennan focuses on Pyrgus's plight in both worlds and the various dark and demonic forces that threaten the peace of his fairyland home and his family's safety. In fact, it is sometimes hard to be sure who the real protagonist here is -- Henry, Pyrgus or Pyrgus's sister, Blue.
There will be plenty of time to sort all that out in the inevitable sequel. Meantime, Faerie Wars is a fine introduction to Brennan's dual world and opens many intriguing possibilities for future stories. Targeted for young adult fans of fantasy and contemporary fantasy, it will appeal equally to adult readers.
My only complaints are a too-neat resolution to one aspect of the story -- too much hinges on a convenient stumble at just the right moment -- and the feeling that we still know too little about Pyrgus's world by book's end. That, too, I imagine will be addressed in the sequel, and I urge fantasy buffs to pick up this series from the start.