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War for the Oaks (1987)

by Emma Bull

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,658995,395 (4.06)272
Eddi McCandry, an unemployed Minneapolis rock singer, finds herself drafted into an invisible war between the faerie filk.
  1. 80
    Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (leahsimone)
  2. 71
    Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire (GirlMisanthrope)
    GirlMisanthrope: The fey at home in the big city, moving unknown amongst the mortals.
  3. 40
    Tithe by Holly Black (TheBooknerd)
  4. 30
    The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars by Steven Brust (Herenya)
    Herenya: Both are set in the late 80s, about artists trying to make a living from their art. There the similarities between the two books end, perhaps... but I can imagine Greg and friends going to listen to Eddi's band.
  5. 20
    Midnight Never Come by Marie Brennan (craso)
  6. 31
    Faefever by Karen Marie Moning (TheBooknerd)
  7. 31
    Knight of Ghosts and Shadows by Mercedes Lackey (Shanshad)
  8. 10
    Angels on Fire by Nancy A. Collins (VictoriaPL)
  9. 10
    The Hum and the Shiver by Alex Bledsoe (yahalomi65)
  10. 00
    A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin (questionablepotato)
  11. 00
    Moonheart by Charles de Lint (Vonini)
  12. 00
    Cold Iron by Melisa Michaels (Litrvixen)
  13. 00
    Siren Queen by Nghi Vo (bjappleg8)
    bjappleg8: Both works portray artists (musicians, actors) as having some claim to magic and the power to transport others into the realm of Faery.
  14. 00
    Steel Rose by Kara Dalkey (Litrvixen)

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» See also 272 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 99 (next | show all)
In one sense, this is *too much* a love letter to Minneapolis (of the late 80s, at that). For me, who am unfamiliar with the city, the level of detail was annoying. But the fate of the city is the reason for the conflict between the fey. Once I got beyond the city-love, the characters and the story blossomed and captivated me ( )
  Treebeard_404 | Feb 7, 2024 |
This is one of the foundational books of urban fantasy, and it's written in sort of the same style that Charles de Lint uses in his Newford series -- it's quieter, more literary, more thoughtful (even as it jams its way through the eyes of a rock band) than the cliched urban fantasy with the exhausted, broke noir private eye we're accustomed to. I have to admit I spent a great deal of time copying quotes from this to various friends; I just loved the writing. Very cool. Glad I finally got around to reading this. :) ( )
  lyrrael | Aug 3, 2023 |
Bull's book is great because she uses the Faerie, like Shakespeare before her, for an extended metaphor on art and imagination. Lesser authors get snagged on the boring surface details of the genre -- inscrutable Court politics and elvish surprise at the high price of eggs -- but Bull never gets distracted from the human element. Eddi's music is fundamentally more interesting than the brownie cleaning her kitchen, and Bull keeps these elements in proper proportion.

It's not a perfect book. It tends to dramatically compress long stretches of time, which distorts the way certain characters are growing and changing. In particular, the phouka -- Eddi's crafty dog/man bodyguard -- goes from seeing Eddi as a convenient tool to "My God! HU-MANS HAVE FEELINGS TOO!" In about thirty pages. His new-found empathy comes off as a little abrupt.

On the other hand, it's hard for me to be harsh on the phouka as the phouka is such a brilliant character. The phouka refers to Eddi as his "primrose." The phouka makes puns. The phouka is the best character in the book. To be honest, the phouka was the source of my squealing. My inner eight-year-old loved the phouka and his verbosely uncomfortable relationship with Eddi. I liked the psychological insights of the text, but my inner eight-year-old gives the phouka two thumbs up. And a hug. ( )
  proustbot | Jun 19, 2023 |
I enjoyed the concept, loved some of the descriptive bits. ( )
  ELockett | Sep 26, 2022 |
I'd never heard of this book until last week and, lo, the bookstore had a ton of copies of this newer edition sitting everywhere, like they got overstocked and where trying to get rid of it. It's hard for me to believe that such an incredible novel that is so relevant to my interests, and is nearly as old as I am, could have gone so unknown to me until mere chance intervened.

This book is a wonderful urban fantasy that can be even more appreciated by music lovers. It's multi-leveled and has great dialogue and character interactions that have you entranced from cover to cover. One reading has set it in my favourites pile.

It was originally published for teens but I feel it's more adult, not in context but in writing. It's very mature and just very well written. This is not for typical lovers of the S. Meyer brand of romance fantasy but a more developed reader. ( )
  brittaniethekid | Jul 7, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 99 (next | show all)
Whenever I describe my Tufa novels, The Hum and the Shiver and the upcoming Wisp of a Thing, to potential readers, they immediately mention two literary antecedents. One is the Silver John stories and novels by Manly Wade Wellman, which I discussed here. The other is Emma Bull’s 1987 novel War for the Oaks. ... As with the Silver John stories, I now understand why people make the connection to my Tufa books. In this case, there are both musicians and faeries, and a sense that magic resides in music. But also as with Silver John, I think that similarity is mainly a surface one. Which, again as with Wellman’s tales, actually delights me, because it means I can enjoy War for the Oaks with a clear conscience.
added by legallypuzzled | editTor.com, Alex Bledsoe (pay site) (Apr 29, 2013)
In short ... I just can’t imagine anyone not liking War For the Oaks. It has everything you could possibly want in a book except pirates and space ships - and the phouka wears a sort of piratey ruffled shirt at one point so that partially covers the pirate angle. It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s thought - provoking, and did I mention that it is sexy as hell? With all those significant glances and enigmatic statements and, oh yeah, some really hot, if not extremely explicit, sex? Just go read it; if you combine it with some good coffee and some good songs in the background, I can almost guarantee you the perfect day.
added by legallypuzzled | editsmart bithces, sb sarah (pay site) (May 2, 2011)

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bull, Emmaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alderman, NaomiIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dringenberg, MikeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eshkar, ShelleyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hayden, Patrick NielsenEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Patrick, PamelaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Regina, Jane AdeleDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Windling, TerriEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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This book is for my mother,
who knew right away that the Beatles were important,
and for my father, who never once complained about the noise.
First words
By day, the Nicollet Mall winds through Minneapolis like a paved canal.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Eddi McCandry, an unemployed Minneapolis rock singer, finds herself drafted into an invisible war between the faerie filk.

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Book description
Eddi McCandry sings rock and roll. But her boyfriend just dumped her, her band just broke up, and life could hardly be worse. Then, walking home through downtown Minneapolis on a dark night, she finds herself drafted into an invisible war between the faerie folk. Now, more than her own survival is at risk - and her own preferences, musical and personal, are very much beside the point.
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