What Does It Mean To Be A Faerie Librarian?

I call myself the Faerie Librarian.

I like the slant rhyme.  The rhyme is more pronounced in my Facebook Faerie News page: Faerie Library. Here I curate fairie references and fairy tale allusions in the news and other sources. Even today, faeries are alive and well in conversation and print! “Like” my Facebook page for more information.

And while I aspire to someday be a librarian for Themselves (or do I? I really don’t want to leave this plane of existence), for now it means I curate articles of faerie and fairy tale interest, and I review books about faeries, fairies, and fairy tales.  Plus other books that appeal to me.

One aspiration for 2019 is to start a face-to-face flesh-and-blood Book Group for reading Teen and Adult Books about faeries. Until then, I want to be more proactive about the faerie-themed books I do review.


Faerie and Fairy Tale Books I’ve Reviewed


The Waters & The Wild  by Francesca Lia Block  (reviewed February 2018)




The Stolen Child  by Lisa Carey (reviewed November 2017)





A Green and Ancient Light by Frederick S. Durbin (reviewed January 2018)




The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (reviewed April 2017)




Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce (reviewed Dec. 2015)




Arriving at Amen: Seven Catholic Prayers That Even I Can Offer by Leah Libresco (reviewed October 2018)




How To See Faeries by John Matthews and Brian Froud (reviewed July 2014)




Uprooted by Naomi Novik (reviewed March 2016)




Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu (reviewed in January 2017)




Six Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente  (reviewed September 2016)



More book reviews from the Faerie Librarian coming soon!


Tam Lin: A Faerie Story For Mortals and Christians

A Sacramental Tam Lin: A Response to Leah Libresco

Carterhaugh, near Selkirk, Scotland.
“I forbid all you maidens that wear gold upon your hair to come or go near Caterhaugh, for young Tam Lin waits there” (translation by author). Photo by Richard Webb. Creative Commons License.

Literary Correspondence

  In the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries, it was common for authors to correspond to one another, to offer support or to voice disagreement through letters.  I was fortunate to meet Leah Libresco at the Doxacon convention last year—I spoke on fairy tales—and I picked up a copy of her book Arriving at Amen: Seven Catholic Prayers That Even I Can Offer. Alas, I didn’t get read it until after the convention ended and we went our separate ways, and I am unable to make it to this year’s convention; so I must now resort to written dialogue.

Janet and Tam Lin

In her chapter on Confession, Libresco explains the Tam Lin tale, most commonly known from Child’s Ballad 39:

The Faerie Queen transforms Tam Lin into a bear. Janet “holds him tight and fears him not.”                                    (CCO Creative Commons; Pixabay.)

“… Janet falls in love with the knight Tam Lin, who is in the thrall of the [. . .]  fairies. To rescue her lover, she has to pull him off his horse as the fairy procession passes and hold on to him, even as he shifts through a variety of dangerous forms. As Tam Lin turns into an asp and a dog and a bear and a burning coal, Janet’s task is simply to hold on. She uses no magic in the story, but she is still a partner in freeing him from his curse. She cooperates as her strengths and faculties allow.”

Ms. Libresco uses the story of Tam Lin as a metaphor for the sacrament of Confession, for cooperating with God’s grace. Her observation that Janet uses no magic is one that I somehow never noticed before. Yet I object to Libresco’s characterization of Janet’s actions as a “task.” Task connotes work and duty.

The ballad itself attributes Janet’s perseverance as active love, not merely cooperation, and certainly no obligation. Janet braved her fears and ventured into the dark on Halloween, the night when according to folk belief, the veil between the worlds is thinnest and spiritual entities like faeries and ghosts roam the earth. She waited until the most opportune moment to pull Tam Lin off his horse. When Tam Lin is magically transformed into a progression of wild animals, the ballad explains why Janet is able to hold onto him throughout these vicious enchantments: “She held him tight and feared him not / he was her baby’s father” and “she held him tight and feared him not / as she loved her child.” (Modern language adaptations here and elsewhere are my own.) Janet was the active force who could save Tam Lin when he couldn’t save himself.

Enduring Love

Janet loves despite the cost, breaking societal norms. When she shows up pregnant, she boldly informs her father, “If I go with child . . . / only I bear the blame. / For there’s no lord about your hall / shall have my baby’s name.” She won’t be married off to a respectable knight for the sake of family propriety or even financial security. She declares, “I will not leave my one true love / for any lord and all his wealth.” Her father could have disowned her; she could have been left a penniless single mother. At this point in the ballad she doesn’t yet know if she will be able to rescue Tam Lin. Since she refuses to be separated from her baby’s father, if she’s unsuccessful in rescuing him, her only other option is to go to Faerie herself to be united with him there and to raise her child in Fairyland. What a choice!

In this, Janet is like the Old Testament heroine Ruth who said, “Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.” Or, if you prefer, Orpheus, who braved Hades in order to rescue Eurydice. Janet takes on the indomitable Fairy Queen to win her true love back.

Confession of Faith

Maybe Janet suspected that she wouldn’t have to go live in Faerie. Maybe she has more faith in God than I do. As soon as she found out that she was pregnant, Janet asked Tam Lin, “If e’er ye was in holy chapel / Or Christendom did see?” (Helen Child Sargent’s 1904 text). Tam Lin doesn’t explicitly clarify what today we would call “religious affiliation,” but he confirms that he was mortal, which in the historic context and culture of the original ballad is an affirmative reply.  He confirms that he is a baptized Christian.

Creative Commons License

Were you baptized? Are you Christian? — (paraphrase) — from Child’s Faerie Ballad #39, Tam Lin.  (CCO Creative Commons; Pixabay)

A Sacramental Tam Lin Affirms Confession and Baptism

Janet intercepts the faerie procession at Miles Cross, at a crossroads. In the Celtic culture, crossroads represent potentiality and liminality. It’s the best place to try to change things, because it is an opportunity to literally change one’s course or direction. In that regard, Ms. Libresco shows a keen insight in equating the tale of Tam Lin with Confession. Repentance, from the Greek metanoia, means a change of life, a change of mind and actions. A crossroads represents the opportunity for metanoia. It also is a geographic representation of the sign of the cross.

The Faerie Queen shape-changes Tam Lin into a fiery coal. (CCO Creative Commons; Pixabay)

“Quickly she dropped him in a well, as she loved her soul.” –From Child’s Ballad #39  (CCO Creative Commons; Pixabay)

But the breaking of Tam Lin’s enchantment is more closely related to the sacrament of Baptism. Janet had already asked if he knew “Christendom;” she was counting on the grace of God to claim His own. The enchantment breaks when Janet throws Tam Lin, trapped in the enchanted form of a burning coal, into a well. We may presume it is a holy well; Scotland is full of them. It need not be. In fairy tales, metaphors have a life of their own. The water of symbolic baptism frees Tam Lin.

Janet rescues Tam Lin by demonstrating the self-emptying love of Christ that never lets go. With this divine-empowered love she not only endures but clutches to herself the forms of serpents, dogs, and lions. In our baptism we are made children of God. God loves us with a love that will not let us go, no matter what form our actions may take. Just as nothing can separate Tam Lin from Janet’s love, St. Paul reminds us that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers” can separate us from God’s love. Nor asps or adders or bears or coals.

A baptism font in a church in Amsoldingern, Switzerland. In baptism, we are made children of God. “For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers . . . nor faeries . . . . nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”



Tam Lin’s Well, Carterhaugh, Scotland

Carterhaugh Geography from the website Tam Lin Balladry.

Selkirk, Scotland.

The Faery Folklorist

A Tarnished Adaptation from the Golden Legend

Nicely told picture book legend, with the rhythm of a folktale. Most of the illustrations convey the mood and enhance the text, especially the aged face of the “fierce and bold” Offero, and the dark black and red illustration which accompanies the devil disguised as a knight. The illustration of the king was impressively majestic, but the illustration of a birch forest was an odd choice to pair with Offero’s hut by the river (no hut; and only an abstract river), and I object strongly to the child representing Christ portrayed as a blonde Anglo. I appreciate the source notes. PreK – Grade 3. Text A; illustrations B

Offero, “The Bearer” wanted to serve the most powerful king.

He meets the devil disguised as a knight, and for a brief time serves him.


Hodges, Margaret, adaptation. Based on a tale from The Golden Legend printed by William Caxton (1483). Illustrated by Richard Jesse Watson. The Legend of Saint Christopher. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Books For Young readers, 2002. Print.

“I am Jesus Christ, the King whom you serve. And you will no longer be called Offero — but Christopher, the Christ-bearer.”

Review original published on Good Reads

Additional Information:

Illustration for Golden Legend, 1493 Image from WikipediaA portrait of William Caxton:

National Library of Wales [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons








William Caxton’s monogram; By Henry Curwen (A History of Booksellers) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A brief biography of William Caxton from the BBC.

Jacobus de Voragine was the original compiler/editor of the legends in the Golden Legend. He was the archbishop of Genoa 1292-1298/1299. He was beatified in 1816.


“Crucifixion” (showing among others the archbishop Jacobus da Varagine with his book, the Golden Legend, in his hand), fresco by Ottaviano Nelli, Chapel of the Trinci Palace, Foligno, Italy. Photo by Georges Jansoone. Nelli, Ottaviano [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

Eleven Hundred Men Went Into The Water – Those Are Pearls That Were His Eyes

The author in Ocean City, MD, 2016-2017.  Photo by author.

I’ve had Peter Benchley’s novel Jaws in my To-Be-Read list for several years. A writer friend recently recommended its dramatic opening chapter, so finally I picked it up and took it with me on my beach vacation last month.

It was that opening scene which stuck with me as I waded ankle-deep in riptide currents on my last day of vacation, unexpectedly recalling with visceral clarity the suspense of a young woman swimming and being snapped in two.

            As might be expected, Benchley’s novel provides a thorough exploration of the characters—of course I pictured them as the actors from the 1975 Spielberg film—including an impossible-to-forget liaison between the police chief’s wife and the expert marine biologist. A different colleague suggested it as a teaching text for a graduate lecture on “How To Write Sex Scenes.” I’d recommend it as a classic example of write-what-you-know, or more precisely, don’t write what you don’t know. One misplaced detail destroys plausibility.  Benchley describes Chief Brody’s wife heading out for her assignation and changing her clothes in a gas station restroom: “She stripped, and standing on the cold floor in her bare feet. . .” I had to put the book down and laugh. No women would ever stand barefoot in a gas station restroom!

My favorite scene in the movie wasn’t in the book, but I did find it quoted elsewhere, described as “one of the most famous monologues in film history.” During a drinking-and-male-bonding moment, fishing-boat captain Quint reveals his naval experience during World War II:

            Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into our side, Chief. We was comin’ back from the island of Tinian . . . just delivered the bomb, the Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in twelve minutes. . . Very first light, Chief, the sharks come cruisin’. So we formed ourselves into tight groups. . . And the idea was, the shark goes to the nearest man, and then he’d start poundin’ and hollerin’ and screamin’ and sometimes the shark would go away. . . Sometimes he wouldn’t go away. Sometimes that shark, he looks right into you. Right into your eyes. You know the thing about a shark, he’s got lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eyes. When he comes at ya, he doesn’t seem to be livin’. Until he bites ya and those black eyes roll over white. And then . . . ah, then you hear that terrible high-pitch screamin’, and the ocean turns red, and in spite of all the poundin’ and the hollerin’ they all come in and . . . rip you to pieces (quoted in Vincent & Vladic, p. 80).


With the movie scene as my introduction to this W.W. II Pacific Ocean disaster, I was delighted to stumble across Lynn Vincent and Sarah Vladic’s  Indianapolis: The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History and the Fifty-Year Fight To Exonerate an Innocent Man.  In the movie Jaws, Quint explains that “the bomb mission was so secret, no distress signal had been sent. They didn’t even list us overdue for a week.”  Not exactly. In Vincent’s and Vladic’s book, we learn the truth, details too horrible for a summer action film. As the vessel quickly filled with seawater, a distress signal was sent; when the “Abandon Ship” order came, Chief Warrant Officer Leonard Woods dismissed his men and stayed alone at his post, bracing himself against a bulkhead due to the extreme list (tilt), sending and re-sending the SOS as the ship went down to the deep.  He didn’t know the equipment was damaged, and the distress signal never went through. Due to a series of miscommunications, back at Naval HQ in the Philippines, officers assumed the Indianapolis had arrived at her next destination. Despite these and other institutional failures, Indianapolis Captain Charles McVay himself was court-martialed for losing his ship. For fifty years, his crew fought to clear his name.

The true horrors the men of the Indianapolis faced were worse than only sharks. Drifting in the ocean, in too few life rafts, men were covered in ship fuel, oil coating their bodies and dripping into their eyes. Rare, salvaged food supplies were hoarded and fought over. Days of dehydration led to hallucinations. Some hallucinated that rescue was nigh:

Their beloved Indy had not sunk at all! She was anchored just below the surface—and there were treats to be had: Ice cream sundaes! Candy bars! Ice-cold Coca-Cola! The men dove happily down to take their pick. Not far off, a hotel was discovered suspended on the water, and anyone could enjoy an hour of rest in the one available bunk if he just waited his turn in line. So far, the line was only fifteen men deep, because some had found an even better option: an A & W root beer stand with free floats served by beautiful pin-up girls (221).

Men swam to their death, thinking they were grasping salvation.

In others, dehydration brought out violent paranoia. Men turned against each other, seeing their mates as enemies. To some, cannibalism meant survival.  Survivors were forced to kill their comrades in self-defense. One group of friends made a pact to kill one another if a man developed signs of insanity.

In school, we learned the basic elements of plot: Man versus man; man versus nature.  The horrors that humans can do far outstrip Benchley’s and Spielberg’s giant shark.  The tragedy of the Indianapolis is that it is true.

Still, Quint’s speech captures the essence of the horror of the historical event. It resonates in my mind, impossible to forget, not only due to its subject matter.  He concludes: “. . . eleven hundred men went into the water. Three hundred sixteen men come out. The sharks took the rest.” Quint’s speech is the epitome of oration. I find myself repeating and reciting the penultimate words of his monologue. Finally, I realize: it’s poetry.

Ĕ  lév  ĕn / hún  drĕd / mén  wĕnt  /  ín   tð  /  thĕ  wát  ĕr

Thrée / hún  drĕd  /  síx  tĕen  /  mén  /  cóme   ðut.

Thĕ shárks  /  tóok  /  thĕ   rést.

Robert Shaw, the actor playing Quint, re-wrote this speech himself before filming. His words are memorable enough to make me think of Shakespeare and the shipwreck in The Tempest; the presumed drowning of Ferdinand’s father:

Full fathom five thy father lies;

Of his bones are coral made.

Those are pearls that were his eyes:

Nothing of him that doth fade,

Both doth suffer a sea-change

Into something rich and strange.

Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:


Hark! I hear them, — ding-dong, bell.

–The Tempest, Act I, Scene 2

Playbill from Drury Lane Theatre,1757 production

For landlubbers interested in history or those who have served, I recommend this recounting of the Indianapolis saga. Now that summer has ended and the lifeguards have gone home, it’s a perfect time to read or re-read, or watch again the movie version of Jaws. For classic drama, magic, and romance, check out Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

To those in the path of Hurricane Florence, I wish you the safety of solid ground – no shipwrecks, no sharks, no dehydration – and to evacuees I hope you encounter no dirty gas station restroom floors.


Further Reading:

“50 Years of US Pin-ups.” The Week. December 12, 2008. Web.

“Connecting with the USS Indianapolis”. Schmidt Ocean Institute. Website.

Hughes, Neil. “The Indianapolis Speech by Robert Shaw in Jaws (1975).”  Blog. March 10, 2013.  Web.

Phillips, Karen. “ ‘We Knew the Ship Was Doomed’: USS Indianapolis Survivor Recalls Four Days In Shark-Filled Sea.” The Washington Post. August 20, 2017. Web.

Rein, Lisa. “Researchers Find Wreckage Of Lost WWII Warship USS Indianapolis.” The Washington Post. August 19, 2017. Web.


Benchley, Peter. Jaws. Garden City, N.Y. : Doubleday, 1974. Print.

Jaws. Directed by Steven Spielberg, screenplay by Peter Benchley and Carl Gottleib, performance by Robert Shaw, Universal Pictures, 1975. Motion Picture.

Vincent, Lynn and Sara Vladic. Indianapolis: The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History and the Fifty-Year Fight To Exonerate an Innocent Man.  NY: Simon & Schuster, 2018. Print.

The Wildness of Growing Up [Book Review]


             Francesca Lia Block’s The Waters & The Wild is as beautiful and evocative as her other books, moving and full of longing, with a surprise bittersweet ending.  The teen years are a time when belonging is essential, and the faerie/changeling metaphor is perfect to describe the despair of not-fitting-in.

Bee wakes up one morning to find her doppleganger, a look-alike who declares that she wants her life back, and promptly disappears.  In her search for answers, Bee befriends a brilliant nerd Haze, who thinks he may be the progeny of aliens, and Sarah, a plump would-be starlet who sings like Billie Holiday and believes she is a reincarnated slave girl.  The three new friends are powerful together and create their own tribe.  They pretend to be invisible to give them the moxy to crash the popular girl’s party. Finally, Bee belongs.

Or does she? Who is the look-alike girl whose life Bee may have unknowingly stolen?

            Block creates rich, dynamic characters and deftly shifts point-of-view to give voice to each of the friends. On the downside, the plot is a little thin.  The ending has not been seeded well; it bears the surprise of the unexpected and not a fulfillment. Still, Block writes beautifully as always and can get away with just about anything. The occasional poem inserts contribute to the theme and tone.  The optimistic resolution demonstrates that the despair of high school doesn’t last forever. This is a near-perfect book for outcasts and ‘alternative’ teens longing to belong.


Block, Francesca Lia. The Waters & The Wild. N.Y.: HarperTeen, 2009.


Ms. Block’s website: www.francescaliablock.com



When the Fey Envy Humans

The original Little Mermaid wants to become human, not to marry a Disnified prince, but because she longs for a human soul.  In my favorite Irish folktale, “The Priest’s Supper,” the fey ask a priest about their eternal destiny.

You and I secretly or not-so-secretly wish magic was real, but it’s  a curious quirk of many of the old tales: our favorite supernatural entities want to be human.

quotation from A Green And Ancient Light by Frederic S. Durbin

In Frederick S. Durbin’s A Green and Ancient Light, a young man’s Grandmother has an old family friend who is eventually revealed as Otherworldly.

Durbin’s book offers the same appeal as one of my childhood favorites, Bette Greene’s The Summer of My German Soldier, although his is a fantastic setting to Greene’s realism. Durbin’s nearly-teen protagonist helps rescue an enemy soldier in a conflict that is never named but feels like an alternate-Earth World War II. The appeal of these books is their exploration of what it means to be human and what it means to be “other.”  In both of these books, enemy combatants/reluctant soldiers have more humanity than some fellow citizens.

The family friend, the fey Mr. Girandole, eventually reveals that he loved Grandmother, but did not want to deprive her of the normal life of growing old with a person who ages beside you. As long as Grandfather was alive, Mr. Girandole kept a respectful distance.

At one point he confesses:

“I knew that humans have a gift that is not granted to us in Faery: this gift of giving the heart in devotion to one other soul, and walking through days of a limited number. This love of which your people are capable . . . It’s warmer than the warmest hearth in winter. It’s like a meteor, lighting the sky before it passes beyond” (215).

He offers an important insight regarding the importance and strength of love. Love is all the more valuable when offered, knowing that one day we will be separated from our beloved.

Cold days are upon us. Give thanks for your humanity this wintry season. And remember to love. Love deeply.

Love like a blazing hearth. Love cosmically, like a meteor.  In the words of the poet Kathleen Norris, may our love be

and wild, as wide as grass,
solemn as the moon.” (from her poem “Little Girls in Church”)

Love like a human. Love with wild abandon. Love big enough to make the Good People envious.


Works Referenced

Durbin, Frederic S. A Green and Ancient Light. N.Y.: Saga Press, 2016.

Greene, Bette. Summer of My German Soldier. N.Y.: Bantam/Dell/Scholastic, 1973, 2006.

Norris, Kathleen. “Little Girls In Church” [poem] in Little Girls In Church. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1995.

Who Is the Stolen Child? [Book Review]

Fleeing America and on a quest of last resort, Brigid returns to the family home in Ireland, to her uncle’s cottage on a fictional St. Brigid’s Island one mile from the Aran Islands off of Ireland’s west coast. She comes seeking a miracle child, and a man — or even a womb — is not necessary if she can find the holy saint’s blessed, or magical, well. To the islanders and perhaps the author, the pagan goddess Brigid blends indistinguishably into the Christian saint.

“The Yank” Brigid has a gift, the same gift her mother had which drove her from the island all those years before: hands that heal. The gift comes with a price, and as she gives health and life to others, time and time again Brigid’s womb compensates by expelling the new life within her until she loses even that organ itself. St. Brigid’s hidden well is her one hope, but the islanders don’t reveal their secrets to outsiders.

Stalwart Emer, although born to the island,  is as much an outsider as Brigid; she is a woman with hands that give hurt, doubt, and despair. As a friendship and love between the two women develops, passion and need and desperation blur, fueled and intensified by their respective secrets. Both Emer and Brigid think Brigid’s hands can heal Emer, but some life-wounds are too immense for either magic or love to cure.

Like Yeats’ poem, which lends itself to the title, the magic of the fairies lives still on the island. Who is the titular Stolen Child? Is it all the children cast from Brigid’s womb? Is it Brigid’s mother, Nuala, who fled the island with Brigid inside her? As a child Emer hoped to be stolen by the faeries but as a mother, she lives in hawkish overprotective terror that her son Niall will be taken.

Author Lisa Carey seamlessly adds to the trove of faerie lore with an organic authority as great as Lady Wilde’s. At the same time as I inwardly accuse her of inventing folklore, I wonder if perhaps she only offers one or another fairy story I haven’t yet encountered.  I bristle because the tale of St. Brigid’s cloak expanding into a land grant for her abbey was transferred from the Curragh to the fictional island; in Carey’s world, there is no Kildare, no Church of the Oaks. Likewise, the Gaelic response to hello which I’ve learned, Dia is Muire duit — literally “God and Mary be with you [too]” — has been reinvented into “Brigid and Mary be with you.” I’m open to the possibility of regional differences and readerly suspension-of-disbelief, but I can’t help wondering: in what else has the author misled the reader? At least on the copyright page she acknowledges this artistic license to which I object. Still, Carey’s writing is so compelling and her weaving of folklore into village life is so adept that generations from now, people may very well point to the legends in this novel as authentic.

This is a powerful, intense, and haunting book.  Emer’s gift of pain and Brigid’s gift of healing are foils, and any accusations of witchcraft could equally apply to a fear of forbidden love. Carey offers the worst kind of horror, the horror of human frailties. Deep inside us, we all carry Emer’s pain. In her darkest hour,

                            “[Emer] stays alone . . . with no ability to break the ugliness

she has begun, and not enough courage to ask someone,

her son, her sister, her lover, to help pull her out from

underneath the terrible weight of herself” (296).

On the island, beside Brigid’s healing well, there is too a cursing stone.

Domestic horror as much as magical realism underpin this historical fiction about the resettling of islanders to the Irish mainland in the 1950’s and 60’s. Carey’s novel reminds us that fairies aren’t cute benign tinkerbells. The darkness of Emer’s childhood only expands as the novel progresses. The reader is briefly lulled by the quaint Celtic island culture, but we should have known better.  In the end, St. Brigid herself offers unexpected hope and redemption.  The Stolen Child is a beautiful, dark, disturbing tour-de-force. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


Bonus material: I especially appreciate the “Author’s Picks: Favorite Books by Irish Authors” and web links on the islands Inisbofin and Inishark which the author provides at the end of her book.


Craft notes: Author Lisa Carey deftly handles point-of-view and the gradual revelation of backstory. This is an expertly crafted novel, and I look forward to reading more of this author.