New York : Tor, c2011
316 p. ; 22 cm ISBN/ISSN:
9780765327680 (hbk.), 0765327686 (hbk.), 0765327686 :, Language:
"A Tom Doherty Associates Book."
In 1918, wounded WWI American soldier Alex White has a frightening encounter in the forest near the pastoral English village of Gatford. His encounter leads him into the arms of Magda Variel, an alluring red-haired widow rumored to be a witch. She warns him to steer clear of the wood and the perilous faerie kingdom it borders, but Alex cannot help himself. Drawn to its verdant mysteries, he finds love, danger, and wonders that will forever change his view of the world
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Even though this book is cataloged as Fiction, it is definitely Sci-Fi/Fantasy. Matheson is probably best known for his novels: I am Legend, What Dreams May Come, Somewhere in Time, The Incredible Shrinking Man, Hell House, and The Night Stalker. He also penned the short story Nightmare at 20,000 Feet which is one of the most famous episodes from the "Twilight Zone."
This story begins as a recollection by the 80+ year old author, Alex White (aka Alex Black). During World War I, Alex meets his soon-to-be best friend in a trench in France. Alex is fighting for America and Harold is there for his beloved Britain. While dodging mortars and hand-grenades, the two form a special bond. As the war progresses, so does the likelihood that their deaths are near.
Harold's dying words to Alex are the rekindling of past stories about Harold's "gorgeous" village in England named Gatford. Alex is bequeathed a wad of gold the size of a fist and vows to find the place after his medical discharge.
Gatford proves to be almost impossible to find. When Alex finally discovers it, he agrees it is gorgeous and decides to settle down there. Only 18 years old and very impressionable, Alex gets into a relationship with the local witch, Magda, who is old enough to be his mother. Alex discover that the nearby forest is called Middle Earth; the home to a nation of fairies.
Alex slowly begins to break the rules passed on to him by town-folk and eventually falls in love with the diminutive fairy, Ruthana. What follows is a sweet story of love and loss in a mixed-marriage (human and fairy) peppered with a vow of vengeance by the vindictive half-brother of Ruthana.
The narrative of this book is borderline grating. Alex is the type of person that cannot take a stand on anything and questions everything he says and believes. Not a good quality in an author leastwise a narrator. The frequency of the narrator's "second thoughts" is so reoccurring that it almost becomes annoying. And yet this story has enough twists and turns to keep the pages turning.
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