For those who’ve never experienced the disorientation of Spring Forward…I dislike you, greatly.
See, in the US we decide to “jump” the clocks forward by an hour every Spring and the body clock takes about a week to fully adjust to the dark mornings and odd eating times. [Just one more reason to despise Ben Franklin, LOL.] Truly, today I’ll eat lunch at probably 10 am and dinner at 8pm because my stomach can’t figure out what the heck the solar visual cues mean. Don’t think I’m the only kook out there; today is notoriously bad for traffic accidents with sleepy drivers causing more morning crashes…
With my body being so out-of-kilter I thought I’d feature a book I recently read by a dear writing friend, Susan Kaye Quinn. Not that it’s odd for me to recommend her work–but I don’t usually review Middle Grade books. I read them, of course–I have an 11 year old child–yet, the story’s sense of being out of both place and time fit beautifully with my Spring Forward disorientation.
THE FAERY SWAP features two young(ish) boys–Finn, a human, and Zaneyr, a faery–who trade souls on the summer solstice in Amesbury, England–a stone’s throw from, you guessed it, Stone Henge.
Finn’s whole life is devoted to keeping his sister, Erin, safe and out of foster care. See, they aren’t orphans but their mom died a few years ago and their dad, a mathematics professor, is parentally MIA. On the way to school one morning, Finn is tricked into helping a strange boy with the smallest of tasks–picking up a dropped coin–and plummets into a realm of magic and fantasy the likes he never could have imagined.
Zaneyr is determined to thwart his father, King Dageyr, from sealing the Rift–the magical space erected between the human and faery world 4000 years ago. In this breach of space-time, Zaneyr’s mother was lost, locked into the mortal human world, while those in the faery Otherworld lived on, never aging. Each summer solstice, emissaries of the faery world are sent to Earth to learn of any advancements in math or science that might lead humans to Otherworld. Due to the time distortions of the Rift, a year in Otherworld equals a century of Earth years, so the advancements move quickly, compared to Otherworld time.
Knowing that sealing the Rift will lead to many mortal lives lost, Zaneyr risks shifting with Finn–even if it means sending Finn’s soul to Otherworld forever. One life must be worth more than the thousands that will be lost if King Dageyr’s plan is complete, right?
Of course, Finn is unwilling to go without a fight. He is assisted in his effort to return to the human realm by a rock sprite named Pyx and Zaneyr’s BFF Liranna, a tough faery who harbors a crush on the impetuous prince. They have less than a day to reverse the swap–by sunset on the solstice the realms will be too far apart for souls to return to their previous realms–so it’s handy that Finn develops some magical skills while trudging through the Otherworld.
Just when Zaneyr is getting settled in Finn’s life, the unimaginable happens–he meets a fellow faery, one who is desperate to return to Otherworld. And, of course, Finn manages to weave a bit of magic that interfere with Zaneyr’s changeling plan.
In the end, it is guidance from Finn’s genius father that stops the realms from merging.
This book is a real treat. Complete, interesting plot arcs call into question some very serious moral issues in a subtle way. For example, is it okay to sacrifice some to save many? And, what is the value of life? Most compelling for me was: is it fair to risk the happiness of everyone to fix an act long regretted?
Most importantly, it is the teen characters who save the day–thwarting the mis-guided plots of King Dageyr to correct past mistakes. The HEA occurs two-fold, with both Zaneyr and Finn having a better place in their realms when the sun finally sets. It’s written with boys in mind–but I believe girls and fantasy lovers of both sexes will enjoy this wholesome tale.
About Susan Kaye Quinn:
She’s the author of the bestselling young adult SF Mindjack Trilogy. The Dharian Affairs trilogy is her excuse to dress up in corsets and fight with swords. She also has a dark-and-gritty SF serial for ages 17+ called The Debt Collector and a middle grade fantasy called Faery Swap.
It’s possible she’s easily distracted.
Susan grew up in California, got a bunch of engineering degrees (B.S. Aerospace Engineering, M.S. Mechanical Engineering, Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering) and worked everywhere from NASA to NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research). She designed aircraft engines, studied global warming, and held elected office (as a school board member). Now that she writes novels, her business card says “Author and Rocket Scientist,” but she mostly sits around in her pajamas in awe that she gets paid to make stuff up.
All her engineering skills come in handy when dreaming up dangerous mindpowers, future dystopic worlds, and slightly plausible steampunk inventions. For her stories, of course. Just ignore that stuff in the basement.
She also does Virtual Author Visits for schools and you can learn about those in this Handy-Dandy YouTube movie…
She’s a dynamic speaker and really inspires people, as you may agree! If you are, or know, a teacher or a librarian, get in touch with Susan about getting in class projects and swag to foster the growth of young minds in both science and writing!
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