Some Kind of Fairy Tale

Is she hiding a deeper secret?


Title: Some Kind of Fairy Tale
Author: Gra­ham Joyce
Series: N/A
Pub­lisher: Anchor
Genre: Fan­tasy, Con­tem­po­rary Fic­tion, Mystery
For­mat: Ebook
Source: Ama­zon

It is Christ­mas after­noon and Peter Mar­tin gets an unex­pected phonecall from his par­ents, ask­ing him to come round. It pulls him away from his wife and chil­dren and into a bewil­der­ing mystery.

He arrives at his par­ents house and dis­cov­ers that they have a vis­i­tor. His sis­ter Tara. Not so unusual you might think, this is Christ­mas after all, a time when fam­i­lies get together. But twenty years ago Tara took a walk into the woods and never came back and as the years have gone by with no word from her the fam­ily have, unspo­ken, assumed that she was dead. Now she’s back, tired, dirty, dishev­elled, but happy and full of sto­ries about twenty years spent trav­el­ling the world, an epic odyssey taken on a whim.

But her sto­ries don’t quite hang together and once she has cleaned her­self up and got some sleep it becomes appar­ent that the inter­ven­ing years have been very kind to Tara. She really does look no dif­fer­ent from the young woman who walked out the door twenty years ago. Peter’s par­ents are just delighted to have their lit­tle girl back, but Peter and his best friend Richie, Tara’s one time boyfriend, are not so sure. Tara seems happy enough but there is some­thing about her. A haunted, oth­er­worldly qual­ity. Some would say it’s as if she’s off with the fairies. And as the months go by Peter begins to sus­pect that the woods around their homes are not fin­ished with Tara and his family…

While I didn’t know what I was get­ting into based on the syn­op­sis, and I try not to read reviews ahead of time, this wasn’t quite what I was expect­ing.  This wasn’t so much a fairy tale/fantasy book as it was an expo­si­tion of rela­tion­ships and reac­tions.  Under mys­te­ri­ous cir­cum­stances, that may have hap­pened to oth­ers pre­vi­ously, Tara dis­ap­pears while in the woods.  Every­one blames her then boyfriend, Richie, but no trace of Tara is found, and after a while, the fam­ily and those involved move on.  Twenty years later, Tara shows up on her par­ents’ doorstep.  For her it’s only been a few months, for them, twenty years have passed.  Shocked, they call their son, Peter, who comes, but can­not grasp the unbe­liev­able tale Tara weaves to explain her disappearance.
Tara’s par­ents are happy to have her back, but some­thing isn’t quite right.  Peter, with the help of a doc­tor, tries to deter­mine if Tara is who she claims to be, for how can she be his sis­ter if she hasn’t aged a day in her absence?  After los­ing his girl­friend, his best friend, and the fam­ily he had become a part of, Richie can­not move on and is stuck in a never-ending loop.  Upon Tara’s return, he only wants to find out what hap­pened, and maybe pick up where they left off.
For a rel­a­tively short read, the char­ac­ter devel­op­ment in this book is astound­ing.  Joyce pulls you into a story which in its sim­plest form would only take a few pages to tell.  But you’re not there for the story; Joyce moves from char­ac­ter to char­ac­ter giv­ing you var­i­ous per­spec­tives which could be dis­tract­ing, but only serves to enhance the story.  From Tara’s own thoughts, Peter’s appre­hen­sion, and Richie’s stunted life, along with a psy­chi­a­trist who just doesn’t get it, this story unfolds an inter­min­gled mix of truth and fan­tasy.  What is pos­si­ble?  Why did Tara come back? Will she choose to stay despite the con­se­quences?  What really hap­pened to her in the other world? Can she and Richie pick up where they left off?
In many ways, I think Tara came back to fix the bro­ken pieces in each per­son who was affected by her sud­den dis­ap­pear­ance, but then again, maybe not.  Joyce lets the reader come to their own con­clu­sions on Tara’s moti­va­tions, what is truth, and what is fan­tasy.  And is she hid­ing a deeper secret?
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