Elfland (Aetherial Tales) - Freda Warrington It’s hard not to judge a book by its cover when the cover is as beautiful as this. Especially when, as you read along, you discover that the imagery isn’t just there merely for aesthetic value, but actually does reflect the story itself.

For me, slipping into Elfland was like overhearing bits of an intriguing conversation. I sort of knew what the conversation was about, and was enticed to learn more as Warrington allowed me into this secret world of Aetherials – fae creatures living along side us in the human world.

The story centres around the Fox family whose lives are intertwined with the cold, sometimes violent members of the Wilder family. Every seven years, the Aetherials gather at Freya’s Crown to re-enter and reconnect with the Spiral on the other side of the Great Gates, but Lawrence Wilder refuses them entry this time, warning them of a great and deadly foe from whom he, as the chosen Gatekeeper, must protect them. Sealing the gates serves as the underlying conflict of the story, with the adult Aetherials angry at Lawrence’s decision, while the younger ones lose their opportunity to truly understand their heritage since they are not allowed to participate in the ritual until they are sixteen. The broken connection to the Spiral also means that the Aetherials will eventually lose their powers and even their memories of being Aetherials at all.

Warrington takes the reader through the lives of these families, mainly seen through Rosie Fox, the main character, but with occasional points of view from others, including her younger brother Lucas and the troubled Wilder boys, Jon and Sam. I really liked the smooth transition through time, beginning with the children at a young age, travelling through to adulthood and all the strange and very human issues they all deal with along the way. Their Aetherial natures play a part through the story, but it is almost secondary. I became so wrapped up in their lives that when the Gates were inevitably opened three quarters of the way in and we get to see the other side, I was a bit upset because I wanted their normal human lives back, crazy emotional conflicts and dysfunctions and all! I managed to get over this and was then swept away in the beauty and magic of Elfland and may have shed a few tears over the wonderful, not quite fairytale ending.

My only disappointment is a minor one over all. It involves the human characters whose depiction and motivations are a bit shallow. One human in particular serves merely as a plot device with obvious outcomes and the character becomes somewhat unjustifiably vilified because of it. Otherwise, I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to the second, which I already own because… just look at that pretty cover…

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