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Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce

Some Kind of Fairy Tale (original 2012; edition 2013)

by Graham Joyce

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5803717,036 (3.83)54
Title:Some Kind of Fairy Tale
Authors:Graham Joyce
Info:Anchor (2013), Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Read but unowned, Favorites

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Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce (2012)



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On Christmas day, as snow begins to fall for the first time in ten years, there's a knock at the door. A present no one thought to expect has arrived and it brings with it a whirlwind of emotion, mystery, and the heady scent of bluebells.

Twenty years ago Tara Martin went for a walk in The Outwoods; somewhere, in the midst of its hundred acres of aged birches and yews that lie "trembling on the lip of an ancient volcanic crater" where the very "air is charged with an eerie electrical quality, alternately disturbing and relaxing," Tara disappeared. Her disappearance was followed by turmoil and chaos. Her parents, her brother, and her boyfriend reel from the shock and the emotional eruption devastates all in various ways. As this devastation seethes and froths through the years, making itself known in the various channels a life can take, each character we come to meet in Joyce's Some Kind of Fairy Tale has been brought forth to the precipice of the loss of Tara in one way or another, have experienced some change in themselves because of it.

Then there's a knock and every assumption, hope, possibility of a miracle that have shaped said precipice are brought to a standstill as Tara arrives on the doorstep with a story of whim inspired travels, a shabby appearance, and a pair of dark glasses.

Her parents are grateful and protective but her brother has questions. Is this really Tara? Why show up after all this time? Where has she been? Why isn't she telling the truth?

He's her brother after all, he knows she's holding something back. But what?

All of this serves Joyce's readers a satisfying mystery in itself. It fits into a ready-made Mystery/Suspense bolthole.

And yet Joyce goes a bit Shakespeare's Night's Dream and leads us "up and down, up and down..." with the help of some faerie dust and lore so that the mystery at hand is spun out into a complex pattern of mystique, fantasy, psychology, and magical realism.

I found the interplay between genres to be captivating and refreshing. There were a few parts that didn't go as deep as I would have wanted but, overall, it was a very interesting read. I'd never heard of Joyce prior to this book but his an author I think I'll be looking out for from now on.

I will say that I both liked and disliked the book's ending. I figured it would be left in the mist a bit but was hoping it would be so far out into the midst so as to leave us quite so puzzled. I think I would have enjoyed Joyce drawing more out from various aspects of the novel. It seemed so cut off in parts which was really the determining factor in my 3 star rating. Love the idea, like the characters, but needed more material. I really wanted to grasp a bit more of Tara's surroundings in this 'Otherworld' - instead the last bit we get from that perspective of things is more acid trip than dimension building. I also wanted more of Tara and Richie. I'm not a big romance person so it's not that I was looking for swooning. I really just wanted to see a psychological/emotional development bloom there; at least one made of deeper stuff than what we experience as the reader. It seemed rushed and that somewhat broke down the atmosphere of the mystique for me.

As Tara speaks of the bluebells, "Their perfume stole the sense right out of your head. It turned you over and shook the juice right out of you. You couldn't walk between them that year, they were so dense; you had to swim in them. The madness of it! The scent was so subtle that it got all over you, in your nostrils, in your cavities, and on your fingers like the smell of a sweet sin. Didn't it bind you in blue lace and carry you away?" That blissful, plunging prose is what I wanted more of. I wanted prose that rang of sweet sin, that invaded all senses and it seems as if Tara's chapters tease at such a wealth of such ability to allow build and bloom.

So I hope to see more of said build and bloom in any future Joyce reads. I feel that he has plenty of talent and intriguing ideas to pluck from. ( )
1 vote lamotamant | Sep 22, 2016 |
An amazing contemporary fairy tale. A girl disappears some time before her 16th birthday. She is gone for 20 years and just as suddenly returns. This great book is about Tara and her family and friends. The way it unfolds seems completely true, the fantastic and the mundane. Of course no one believes her, but she is so sure, and the strange thing is, she hasn't aged a bit.
When she left, her poor boyfriend was unfairly accused and has had a rough life since. He lost the friendship of her brother and now she has returned, they are reunited in the puzzle to solve that is Tara.
There are undercurrents and side stories of those related to the family and all are richly drawn from human nature and our gadget and entertainment filled lives. You can see how everything described could be possible.
I am happy to have found a new author to devour, and I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy, or just a well written story. Please be advised there is some profanity, but this just makes it more real. ( )
  cynrtst | May 13, 2016 |
Tara, at age 16, disappears and destroys the lives of those around her. Her family is devastated, her boyfriend is a suspect, the small town is rocked. Twenty years later, she shows up on her parents doorstep on Christmas Day, looking like she hasn't aged very much and constantly wearing dark glasses.

I became very entranced by this book. I didn't want to put it down. Was Tara with the mystical people or is she compensating for some horror in her past? I couldn't wait to find out. The characters were very fleshed out. The book was beautifully written. I truly found this a good and charming read. ( )
  bookwormteri | Apr 29, 2016 |
A realistic and beautifully written exploration of what might happen if the tale of Rip Van Winkle (or any of the older stories of people being taken 'Under the Hill') happened in modern-day England.

Twenty years ago, 16-yr-old Tara disappeared after a fight with her boyfriend. Although the boyfriend was a suspect, nothing was ever proven, and her family was left to mourn and to come to terms with Tara's presumed death.

Now, Tara has shown up on her parents' doorstep. At first, she gives a sketchy story about having traveled the world for the last 20 years, but soon she tells her brother, Peter, a story of having gone with a handsome man on a white horse, to a Fairyland that resembled a free-love commune, with magic.

Naturally, Peter convinces her to see a shrink.

While the book is well done, I personally felt that there was too much psychological analysis and not enough action. I wanted to feel more magic and less mundane, domestic detail. I understand why Joyce made the decisions he did here, I just didn't end up loving the result - although I did like the book.

The end was well done, with a sense of the inevitable that fits both the spirit of the folklore and the situation set up in the novel. ( )
1 vote AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
A very well written modern day fairy tale.
A young girl disappears and then comes back home 20 years later, apparently no older--or is she?
The people she left behind were destroyed by her disappearance and find it very hard to accept her return, especially when she tells them where she's been. She's obviously got amnesia, or is perhaps lying. She talks to a professional who has a reasonable, psychological explanation for everything she tells him.
Slowly moving, well constructed tale of lives and relationships changed and destroyed--and something eerie just out of reach, but trying to get in. ( )
  quiBee | Jan 21, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Graham Joyceprimary authorall editionscalculated
Carella, MariaDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mahon, EmilyCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my daughter, Ella
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In the deepest part of England, there is a place where everything is at fault.
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Book description


Twenty years ago, teenaged Tara Martin disappeared in the dense — some say enchanted — forest known as the Outwoods on the edge of a small town in central England. Her parents and her brother, Peter, feared the unthinkable; her troubled boyfriend, Richie, was the last known person to be with her, but there were no signs of any wrongdoing. Police and neighbors searched the Outwoods for days, but weeks turned into months and her family slowly gave up hope. Tara's disappearance was left unsolved.

Now, twenty years after her disappearance, a knock at the door on Christmas Day brings an overwhelming sight: Tara, disheveled and exhausted but very much alive. Her explanation for her absence comes hesitantly, and does not seem logical — especially when she confides to Peter, now a forty-year-old husband and father, that if she were to tell the full story no one would ever speak to her again. What is most unsettling is that Tara looks barely older than the day she vanished.

Tara's tale — slowly revealed — is either magical or delusional, dreamlike or terrifying. For Richie, who never recovered from the disgrace of suspicion, Tara's return offers the chance to regain the love of his life, although for all the longing he's felt for twenty years, a new blackness seems to overtake him with Tara 's renewed presence. As those who love and missed Tara attempt to understand where she's been for two decades, they begin the ask the same question: Has Tara lost her sanity, or have they?

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385535783, Hardcover)

Acclaimed author Graham Joyce's mesmerizing new novel centers around the disappearance of a young girl from a small town in the heart of England. Her sudden return twenty years later, and the mind-bending tale of where she's been, will challenge our very perception of truth.

For twenty years after Tara Martin disappeared from her small English town, her parents and her brother, Peter, have lived in denial of the grim fact that she was gone for good. And then suddenly, on Christmas Day, the doorbell rings at her parents' home and there, disheveled and slightly peculiar looking, Tara stands. It's a miracle, but alarm bells are ringing for Peter. Tara's story just does not add up. And, incredibly, she barely looks a day older than when she vanished.
Award-winning author Graham Joyce is a master of exploring new realms of understanding that exist between dreams and reality, between the known and unknown. Some Kind of Fairy Tale is a unique journey every bit as magical as its title implies, and as real and unsentimental as the world around us.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:47 -0400)

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After missing for twenty years, Tara Martin appears on her parents doorstep barely a day older than when she vanished.

(summary from another edition)

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