Some Kind Of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce (Orion)

by Patrick O'Connor.


DO you believe in fairies?

Well, you might do after reading this enchanting novel by Graham Joyce which teasingly doesn't quite fall into any genre.

Is it a thriller, a love story, or a fantasy? That is up to the reader to judge but it is certainly the sort of book that has you ploughing on well past the time you should be nodding off.

The story begins on Christmas Day in a typically suburban English home. There is a knock on the door and Dell Martin opens it and is astonished to come face to face with his daughter Tara who disappeared 20 years ago at the age of 15 after going for a walk in the nearby woods.

The author expertly explores the impact of Tara's return on her parents, her brother Peter and his family and her former boyfriend Richie whose grilling by the police at the time of her disappearance left him battered and bewildered. So the big question posed is where had Tara been?

The narrative flits from third person to first and Tara tells her own story. She claims she met a handsome stranger in the woods and he whisked her away on his white stallion to a strange and fascinating land.

Tara realises that everyone will think her mad but how do you explain the fact that she still looks like a teenager? Tara reckons that her time away only lasted six months, rather than 20 years and even a celebrated psychiatrist is baffled by her tale.

Joyce makes constant reference to ancient British folklore as the story unfolds and darker elements are introduced to further muddy the water.