The Fairy Wren by Ashley Capes
Published by Close-Up Books on October 31, 2014
Genres: [Adult] Fantasy
3.5 Stars, Completed October 17, 2015
– SPOILER free –
Not only have I been in an awful reading slump for the past few weeks but also a reviewing/blogging slump as well. This was the last book I was able to read before I fell into that strange non-reading period, and I’m so glad that during my time away I finally found the words to describe how I felt about The Fairy Wren.
This book begins with the readers meeting Paul Fischer, a guy who just can’t seem to catch a break. His bookshop is doing poorly, his wife has left him, and on top of all things he meets a preteen, Nepali runaway, has a shady friend struggling with his own problems and needs Paul’s help, and notices a blue, magic wren suspiciously following him. Throughout the story, it seems like questions are only followed by even more questions and uncertainties.
Initially, I thought this book was going to be an adult fantasy infused with some contemporary elements but it ended up being a magical realism mystery, which was nice and refreshing since I don’t give the magical realism genre enough attention as a reader.
Something unique about The Fairy Wren for me was how likable Paul Fischer was despite his impulsive behavior. Paul isn’t a protagonist I’m usually drawn towards but I couldn’t help but find his thoughts to be very real and justified. I found myself sympathetic towards his struggles throughout the book. Even to the point where I was skeptical of every new character introduced-Paul just didn’t need any more misfortunes or betrayals.
However, I was a bit disappointed that The Fairy Wren didn’t really bring out the bookworm in Paul. Understandably so though since the bookstore wasn’t doing well anyhow. Plus, Paul was rarely in his store (because he ends up making a decision with the store that disables him to). Yet, I guess the reader in me was hoping to see this anyway.
As for the writing, it was superb, which isn’t really an aspect I was very surprised by since I already picked up Ashley’s nice writing style through our email correspondence months prior to reading this. Ashley had just the right amount of descriptive prose that it didn’t appear showy or hard to follow. Besides, there were a lot of stuff going on in terms of plot with Paul’s friend and the runaway, so having a less complex but well written prose was probably the better approach and worked really nicely.
And speaking of the plot, there were parts of it that I really enjoyed and some I didn’t feel as invested in. I really liked the mystery angle with Paul’s friend but I didn’t really care for the arc with the Nepali runaway. She does play a greater role towards the end but I, personally, thought her and her story to be a little extra. Of course, being a huge fan of fantasy and magic, I also liked the idea of the fairy wren. Although, I wished that the magical part of the bird was emphasized more. Maybe even a little of imaginative mythology would have been nice. But this is just a personal opinion. So I guess in terms of plot this was one of those “it’s not you, it’s me” type of books. I can easily see why this was a four or five star read for some. But for me, my mixed feelings towards the plot was why I deducted the amount of stars I did.
The final verdict is that if you’re interested in unpredictable stories, want to delve into the contemporary/fantasy crossover genre, or just want to read a book set in Australia that actually depicts and describes the country some, I’d wholeheartedly suggest this one!
Thank you, Ashley, for sending me a copy of your book! In no way did this affect my reading experience or honest review.