Except the Queen, by Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder

Except the Queen, by Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder (Roc, a Penguin imprint, 2010, adult, but YA crossover, especially with regard to the cover, 371 pages)

Two sisters are banished from the world of the fairy, cast out into the mortal world for being indiscreet about what they saw their queen doing with a lusty young man....It's a harsh punishment. Not only are they separated--Serena lands in New York, Meteora in Milwakee--but they are stripped of their fairy powers, and their glamorously lovely and lithe fairy bodies.

Fate is often unkind to older women, such as the sisters are now, who live on the fringes of society. But help comes to each. Serena gets a social worker, but Meterora really strikes lucky--she gets taken under the wing of none other than Baba Yaga, the Russian witch, herself. And it turns out that Baba Yaga has invested in real estate, and needs someone to collect the rent...

But the mundane details of life (like learning how to send letters via "eagle") soon give way to an ominously fraught tale, when two urchins of the storm are taken in by each sister. Serena shelters a boy whose Red Cap father (Red Caps are a not nice at all type of fairy) has been using him as a hunting dog. Meteora finds herself involved in the life of a girl who has been marked with an evil fairy magic. Both the teenagers are in danger from forces beyond their control or understanding...and Serena and Meteora are right in the path of the coming show-down.

Can two middle-aged ex-fair-folk with only a touch of their powers do anything useful? The answer is a resounding yes! And each sister gets a little romance, too....so do the teenagers, but that's not as uncommon!

I loved the wealth of details about urban living for ex-fairies that the authors provide. And it was a just fine story, too, although it was the particular, rather than the plot, that I warmed to most. (this despite the fact that Serena/Meteora, in retrospect, have almost the same character and narrative voice, despite each being written by one of the two authors).

Most of all, I loved the sense I had of two great writers having a lot of fun, and letting me come along for the ride. A very nice read indeed.

Other reviews can be found at SF Reviews, The Book Smugglers, Reading, Watching, Playing


  1. Oh, my WORD I want to read. This. Book. I really like Midori Snyder (not the least because I have "booze-named" cousins, and while we have a Chianti and a Chardonnay, we have no Midori) and enjoy her work, and of course, Our Jane is the soul of awesome as always. And it's an adult novel! With Fairy Themes! This is A Good Thing!

    Much fangirling.

  2. Too much fun. M would love this one. (As would I.) I'll have to keep an eye out for it!

  3. I read the authors' novella of the same name, but I had no idea they expanded it into a novel! I definitely want to get my hands on this; the novella was excellent.

  4. Ooh, it sounds wonderful. I can't wait to read it.

  5. Read this recently--such good writing! And I'm afraid I relate all too well to women in late middle age... I was happy to see these two sisters kicking bad guy butt!

  6. This sounds excellent - I was reading Midori Snyder's 'Hannah's garden' a few weeks ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.

  7. I haven't actually read any Midori Snyder...clearly, I must change this. Hannah's Garden sounds like it's right up my alley--I shall get it forthwith--thanks Katherine!

  8. This book sounds like loads of fun, so I shall definitely try to get my hands on it.


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