Fans of novels featuring dark, haunted woods, overgrown English moors and changelings hidden in the dense brush will be absolutely delighted by the hypnotizing mystery of Graham Joyce’s Some Kind of Fairy Tale. Joyce opens with the promising setup of a returned, thought-for-dead protagonist, blending reality with imagination as he explores what really happened to Tara Martin.

Tara lands on her parents’ doorstep on Christmas Day, emaciated, freezing, filthy and somehow not looking a day over 16—the age she was when she mysteriously disappeared 20 years ago. Her parents cannot contain their relief over their daughter’s return. However, Tara’s vague, apologetic excuses don’t fool her brother, Peter, or her distraught ex-boyfriend, Richie. Coaxed into admittance, Tara eventually reveals that she had been taken to a magical land and was unable to cross back and return to her home until six months had passed. Six months—that turned out to be 20 years on the other side. Peter, Peter’s family and Richie are overwhelmed by Tara’s insistent confession. Was Tara in fact taken by a magical being, or is something much darker going on in the inner recesses of her mind?

Told from multiple points of view—the concerned brother, the broken-hearted ex-lover, the potentially dangerous therapist and that of Tara herself—Some Kind of Fairy Tale addresses the many questions behind Tara’s vanishing. Did a mystical man really seduce the 16-year-old, carting her off via white horse to a strange land full of ritualistic orgies and honor killings? And if her story is made up, how to explain why a strange man is following Richie and attacking him in the dead of night? Or Tara’s remarkably youthful appearance?

Joyce bends the authorial suspension of disbelief as he explores the multiple layers behind Tara’s traumatic disappearance and return. As the sinister psychologist ponders her sanity and Richie begins to question his own mind, Tara’s ultimate fate will leave readers feeling as if they had been under a spell the entire duration of her journey.

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