cover image The Treachery of Beautiful Things

The Treachery of Beautiful Things

Ruth Frances Long. Dial, $16.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3580-4

Like the myriad tales and ballads that are her sources, fantasy author Long, in her first YA book, presents Faerie as a dazzle of strange creatures, unknowable motives, and threat. Caught in the chaos is 17-year-old Jenny, whose brother, Tom, was snatched by a tree-man seven years earlier. Seeking catharsis for her guilt, Jenny goes to the edge of the wood and hears the flute Tom always played. She plunges after it into a primeval world. Long’s rich knowledge of folklore is the blessing and the curse of her plot: each scene is vividly, often horrifically imagined, but there are too many characters, terrors to fear, and secrets to parse. Puck, the Wild Hunt, Redcaps, the greenman, the court of the Sidhe—everything gets a turn. Individual episodes play out like the short tales from which they derive, but do not cohere to build steady narrative tension. Long is a solid writer, but when nearly every encounter ends in betrayal, it’s difficult not to grow jaded by the parade of wonders. Ages 12–up. Agent: Suzie Townsend, New Leaf Literary and Media. (Aug.)