Author: Caleb James
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press July 2013
Rating: B List
Blurb: A Harmony Ink Press Young Adult Title
First in the Haffling series
All sixteen-year-old Alex Nevus wants is to be two years older and become his sister Alice’s legal guardian. That, and he’d like his first kiss, preferably with Jerod Haynes, the straight boy with the beautiful girlfriend and the perfect life. Sadly, wanting something and getting it are very different. Strapped with a mentally ill mother, Alex fears for his own sanity. Having a fairy on his shoulder only he can see doesn’t help, and his mom’s schizophrenia places him and Alice in constant jeopardy of being carted back into foster care.
When Alex’s mother goes missing, everything falls apart. Frantic, he tracks her to a remote corner of Manhattan and is transported to another dimension—the land of the Unsee, the realm of the Fey. There he finds his mother held captive by the power-mad Queen May and learns he is half-human and half-fey—a Haffling.
As Alex’s human world is being destroyed, the Unsee is being devoured by a ravenous mist. Fey is vanishing, and May needs to cross into the human world. She needs something only Alex can provide, and she will stop at nothing to possess it… to possess him.
Review: When the ladies at Gay List were selecting books to read, I once again picked my book based off the cover. It’s a bad habit I know… but this time I struck gold.
Haffling is different. I became captivated by Alex and his deep devotion to his family instantly. When I started to read the book I was making too many comparisons. And it starts out with the feeling of an older Gregor the Overlander, smished with Alice in Wonderland all combined into an angsty kid-on-the-street trope.
Then the best thing happened. All my little stereotypes fell away and I was racing down the streets of New York with Alex, Jarod hot on his heels. I was consumed with trying to save Alex’s sister Alice, watching his mother fall apart, seeing his crush become someone he needed.
Really I could have done without all the fairies and mystical land with the evil May. I could have and would have been just as happy watching Alex and Jarod figure out how to save Alice and his mother all on their own. The fantasy aspects almost take away from the beautiful boys in this story. Jarod, who puts everything he knows to be truth on the line and breaks boundaries for a boy he secretly loves. Alex, who has sacrificed his childhood for his mother and sister and was willing to sacrifice anything and everything else.
The secondary characters brought tremendous depth. The way the author portrayed Alex’s mother and her disease, was both stunning and heartbreaking. Even the social worker, Alice, and Nimby, his fairy, were intriguing and interesting parts of the plot line.
For all you parents looking for a good book for your teen, there was only a small amount of kissing and no sexual contact at all. There was desire on the part of the two boys but it wasn’t consummated.
The ending was…odd. I can’t really say more than that without spoilers. But it left me clicking, turning the page over and over, hoping I didn’t skip something. I had to go back and reread it because of how different it was from the rest of the book. But the beginning and middle were good enough to make up for it.
If you love fantasy and like to escape into secret lands with mysteries at every turn, if you love strong young men putting all they have on the line for love..then this is the book for you. Even if you don’t care for YA, for whatever reason, I would encourage you to give this try. It has a different feel than most and in the end you won’t regret it.
Reviewed by Beans
Posted on October 9, 2013, in Beans and tagged a haunting past, B List, Beans, Coming Out, coming-of-age, Crazy Family, defies categorization, Down The Rabbit Hole, DSP, Fairies, Family, fantasy, fantasy in modern times, Finding Your Power, Finding Yourself, First Love, Friends to Lovers, Grief, Harmony Ink Press, High School, Loss, love triumphs over all, Mental Illness, New York, paranormal, Series, Siblings, Supernatural, Teenagers, world building, YA, Young Love. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.