sixteen: Rebel by R J Anderson
Rebel by R J Anderson
London, Orchard, 2010
Review published online at CMIS Resource Bank and in Fiction Focus
Age 12+. An adventure featuring humans and Oakenfolk united against the evil cult leader faery, The Empress.
For teenagers who still want to believe in faery folk, but want a bit of edge, a bit of attitude, this series is a standout. Comparable to Justine Larbalestier’s How to Ditch Your Fairy, the faeries in this series are far removed from the fluttery creatures of Daisy Meadows’ series that readers may have devoured when younger.
The quadrilogy (Faery Rebels, named for US audiences) includes Knife, Rebel, Arrow and Swift (latter two to be published 2011/12), but the reader doesn’t need to have read the prequel to appreciate the storyline of Rebel.
Anderson employs vivid sensory descriptions, including a drone faery with ‘blond hair worn poet-length’ (p. 171) and the human aroma as a ‘thick meaty smell pungent with chemicals and salt’ (p. 169).
The viewpoint varies, focusing first on Linden, a young Oakenwyld faery blessed by the dying Queen as ‘our people’s greatest hope’ (p.12). Linden’s quest is to seek out the Children of Rhys to beg for a share in their magic, as her people’s magic was exhausted years before. Without magic and glamours after the Queen’s death, the Oakenwyld faeries will die.
Rebel’s viewpoint undertakes a dimensional shift when Timothy, a human teenager, arrives at Oakhaven on suspension from school and is drawn to the oak, ‘a lonely titan shivering in the cold’ (p. 27).Timothy runs away to London unwittingly with Linden in his backpack. When he and Linden come to the attention of The Empress, Timothy is forced to believe in faeries and reluctantly joins Linden’s quest.
Timothy’s isolation as an English schoolboy from Uganda (child of missionaries) is replicated by the Oakewyld faeries isolation from others of their kind (they’re all female and confined to the Oak). Timothy and Linden become friends in this adventurous coming-of-age story.