Lisa Goldstein’s new, long-awaited fantasy brings to mind Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
More than one popular YA author gives The Uncertain Places a rave: Charles de Lint offers a perceptive, longer-than-we-are-permitted review here (scroll to the bottom of the page). And Cory Doctorow writes about it on Boing Boing.
Ron Hogan of Shelf Awareness wisely recommends giving this one to fans of Neil Gaiman and Lev Grossman. Agreed!
Adult/High School–Goldstein’s inventive take on magical realism plunges readers into late 1960s Berkeley where college students Ben and Will become romantically involved with the two oldest Feierabend sisters, Maddie and Livvy. The boys are drawn inexplicably to the mysterious siblings; to their detached, absent-minded mother; and to the younger sister, Rose, the family historian. They find themselves visiting the Feierabends’ vineyard in Napa again and again, but each trip raises questions in Will’s mind about strange and mysterious events in the house. Unable to ignore the strange men he finds cleaning in the middle of the night, Will starts asking questions. The family explains that the clean house, the thriving vineyard that seems to happen without anyone working at it, and Maddie’s acting success are all part of a birthright passed down for hundreds of years. All of that luck comes at a cost–in each generation, a bondmaid must be given over to the faeries for seven years. When Will’s love, Livvy, is plunged into a sleep from which she cannot wake, Will makes his own bargains with the faeries to bring her back. For teens who liked Lev Grossman’s The Magicians (Viking, 2009) or Helen Grant’s The Vanishing of Katharina Linden (Delacorte, 2010), The Uncertain Places will be a perfect fit, though teens may be a bit frustrated by the end of the novel, which sums up events too quickly. The final question that Will poses makes the wrap up worth it, “If I had known that all this would happen, would I have chosen differently?” It’s a compelling question that will have teens asking the same.–Caroline Bartels, Horace Mann School, Bronx, NY