Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner
Liza has grown up in the aftermath of the War between humans and Faerie. It was the greatest conflict in human memory, she was told—and it left its mark in the way that the world has changed. Trees reach out their branches with sinister intent, and the forest surrounding Liza’s town is full of deadly shadows that can kill with a touch. Liza has grown up knowing the rules: any trace of magic must be cast out immediately, before it turns on the town and brings destruction on their heads.
Liza knows that they have rules for a reason, and without them, their town would have been destroyed by magic long ago. But when her little sister is born with hair clear as glass—a sure sign of magic—her father leaves her to die on a hilltop. After that, everything changes. Liza’s mother leaves in the middle of the night. And Liza starts having visions—of the past and the future. She knows that she has to flee her town lest she bring danger down on the people she loves. But what starts out as a desperate escape from what she has left behind becomes a journey that may lead to hope—a hope for the future of both worlds.
What I love about this book is that an apocalypse is a large-scale thing. It affects everybody, all over the place, and a really good post-apocalyptic book makes the massive overarching aftereffects known—the way the apocalypse has really devastated humanity. And Bones of Faerie definitely accomplishes that.
But Bones of Faerie is also an intensely personal story. Taking place as it does twenty years after the War, after the devastation, it’s not just a story about global disaster—it’s Liza’s story. It’s Liza’s journey—and even as the trees rise up to kill people and shadows can detach themselves from their caster with deadly intent—even with all the dangers and perils of a post-apocalyptic world, the most terrifying villain of them all is, in the end, only human.
This is post-apocalyptic in all the best ways. The dangers of a world where vegetation is deadly and corn moans and bruises you when you harvest it are terrifying, and even more chilling is the way Liza just accepts all of this as commonplace and wonders at how the tress could ever have been tame and safe to be near. The world feels real. It feels possible.
The only complaint I have is one I have with all of the best stories: I want more. I closed the last page of the book with a faint ache in my heart. I want to explore this apocalypse a little bit further. I want to understand the connections between Faerie and the human world a little bit more. I want to spend more time with these characters I’ve grown to love and respect. (Especially Allie, who stole my heart from the moment she showed up on the page.) I didn’t want to leave this book behind me.