Bear with my summation, so that I may explain the multitude of ways in which this book alternately irritated and bored me.
30-something Theo is lead singer in a garage band, contemplating changing his life as his girlfriend has a baby on the way. Except, of course, he’s not going to change it tonight, despite generally disliking his bandmates; he’s going to go home late without returning her calls and sneak in. Asshat. He discovers sneaking doesn’t matter, as she’s been bleeding out in the bathroom after a miscarriage. Although he tries to support her, she breaks up with him and her mom whisks her away. Its the first bud of sympathy I develop for him. He takes refuge with his mom, who is dying of cancer, and she states “I never loved you like I should.” The seedling of sympathy inches a little taller, and even sprouts a leaf. She dies, he goes through her things and discovers a mysterious safety deposit book holding a book written by his great uncle. ‘Hey,’ he thinks, ‘I’ll read it.’ To his surprise, it’s all about his uncle’s adventures in Fairyland. Perhaps it’s a fiction book.’ Well, maybe it’s worth something,’ he thinks and keeps reading.
Meanwhile, he decides to sell mom’s house, live off the proceeds and go find himself in a cabin in the woods. ‘Good idea,’ I think. ‘Time to focus on some personal growth.’ Then one night he gets really drunk at a bar, drives home (ass) and wakes up to discover
Tinkerbell Applecore the sprite hanging out in his room. They start talking but are rudely interrupted by Big Body-snatching Evil knocking on the door (very polite Big Evil). Evil, of course, realizes the bathroom window is open, so heads there next. Dumbass opens the door to the bathroom to verify Big Evil has indeed entered the house, thus forcing Applecore to fight on his behalf because he’s too stupid stunned to react. She opens a door to Fairyland, he goes through it and pulls her with, spoiling her intentions about where they would land in Fairyland.
Part two: Fairyland. Every trope you’ve ever read. First we had the trash-talking-adorable-Tinkerbell stereotype (which might have been funny the first time someone thought of it twenty years ago), followed by the I’m-not-the-one-to-answer-questions trope, which leads to the take-action-before-you-understand-consequences device. Action starts off with the faceless-band-of-thugs-chasing-me contrivance, which continues the no-time-for-questions ruse. Then there’s the mysterious/sexy-stranger-saves-me-on-the-train device (the only acceptable example of this is in North by Northwest), a beautiful goth-looking chick that you just know is destined for him after a misunderstanding, just to round out the tropey-tropes.
Character-wise, Theo remains an ass. Despite being told early on that his saying, “Jesus Christ” all the time is physically offensive to the fae (it causes them pain), and despite not having a shred of evidence as to his personal Christianity, every other exclamation is some version of “Jesus,” or even “goddamn.” Applecore tells him about ten times, but he still doesn’t listen. As I said, an ass. Meanwhile, all this time he’s carrying around his uncle’s little guide to fairyland travelogue, but he doesn’t bother to open it because he’s too frustrated and tired of not understanding anything (!?!). He gets the hots for the fairy on the train and gets pissy with Applecore for ruining his chances, despite earlier suspicion and dislike of nearly every creature in Fairyland–especially the ugly ones. He’s so sure a ogre is hitting on him that he thinks he’s being kind when he says that he doesn’t like her type when she was just trying to be nice. Any sympathy generated in his rough beginning is soundly stomped into dust by this time. Applecore says it best when she says, “hey, if I wasn’t working for the good guys, I would consider joining the bad side after meeting you.”
Plot and characterization aside, how was it? Well, it rather picked up around page 300 or so when it stopped focusing so much on the whiny lead and started focusing on the plot, when a small alliance of fairy houses makes a bid to take control of the fae world and ours. Then it goes into some oddness about the goblin revolution, and suddenly the tone is quite serious. I might have kind of liked that part if I didn’t have to read about Theo, who suddenly looks inside and discovers a heart that grows three sizes at the end.
Overall: Quite possibly beyond redemption, except for one or two phrases and the singularly interesting idea of a ‘goblin’s tale’–it will always have a hole in it.
Much like this one.