on March 5, 2015
Genres: Middle Grade
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Forget cute fairies in pretty dresses. In the world of Aluvia, most fairies are more like irritable, moody insects. Almost everyone in the world of Aluvia views the fairy keeper mark as a gift, but not fourteen-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 communicate, 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 dreaminess, apathy and 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 and get his operation up and running.
The problem? Sierra’s queen wasn’t the only queen to disappear. They’re all gone, every single one, and getting them back will be deadly dangerous.
Sierra journeys with her best friend and her worst enemy -- assigned by her father to dog her every step -- to find the missing queens. Along the way, they learn that more than just her sister’s life is at stake if they fail. There are secrets in the Skyclad Mountains where the last wild fairies were seen. The magic Sierra finds there has the power to transform their world, but only if she can first embrace her calling as a fairy keeper. (less)
In the world of Aluvia having a fairy mark means that you are one of the chosen to help establish the financial stability of the land, collecting nectar for healers and dealers. When her devilish father uses her for his own gain Sierra doesn’t protest, but when he tries to sell her sister to a vile alchemist she gets protective. With her fairy queen missing, Sierra goes on the hunt for the nectar her father so desperately desires in exchange for her sisters freedom with the help of her only friend and worst enemy. Throughout her journey, she encounters legendary creatures and things about herself she didn’t know existed.
It took me a while to get into this book. The first half of the story was fairly slow as the trio traveled in search of the missing fairies, but as soon as it hit the half way mark things started to get exciting. Bearce introduced an unlikely character to the journey, which added an exciting aspect to the story and livened it up exponentially. After finally getting where they were trying to go, all it took was adding a few mystical and legendary creatures to jump-start this escapade.
Even though this story is considered young adult, I think that it would be more suited as middle grade. The characters buoyed between the young adult age and middle grade, and though they do act mature for their age, I believe that it would be more suited towards a younger audience. It did not have so much to do with the way that the characters acted as a whole but the main character’s focus. She was learning who she wanted to be while trying to save her already deteriorated family, a common motif in young adult novels that has a different feel in middle grade novel, which presented itself in this story. I can easily compare it to the feel of Suzanne Collins’s Underland Chronicles as Gregor’s sole mission is to save his little sister, Boots. Even though Bearce included a love interest, saving her sister was the focal point. Sierra even comments sporatically how love, of the romantic kind, hadn’t been something she considered (until the second half of the book).
Unlike some of the other young adult novels that are so popular in the market, Sierra did not fall in love with her best friend. Just because he had been the only person she shared something with did not increase her romantic feelings towards him. Their contact with one another remained strictly friendly. The refreshing brotherly feel that he introduced to the dynamic added a dramatic aspect, giving both of them the opportunity to be with those that they loved as they were instead of each other as a fallback.
Fairy Keeper wasn’t my favorite fairy story, but it did have a completely different feel than many of the fairy stories circulating the shelves today. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a fantastical story with the slight edge in the young adult and middle grade market.