cover image The Uncertain Places

The Uncertain Places

Lisa Goldstein. Tachyon (IPG, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-61696-014-8

Goldstein (The Red Magician) plays around with forgotten fairy tales in this decades-spanning mixture of romance and fantasy. In 1971, Berkeley sophomore Will Taylor falls hard for Livvy Feierabend, though there's something strange about the laissez-faire, eccentric Feierabend family, whose members apparently lead charmed, prosperous lives. When Livvy falls into an enchanted sleep, Will discovers that a German folktale ties the Feierabends' success to sacrifice. To awaken Livvy, Will must outfox the fairy folk, a slow-burning process that takes nearly 20 years. This leisurely, lyrical tale owes much to old school mythic fictionists like Charles de Lint and Terri Windling. The fictional folktale of the Bondmaid feels utterly authentic, but the novel's pacing is off, and there's just too much crammed into a relatively short book. This mostly satisfying story could have been even better with more room to play. (June)