Books : reviews

Ruth Vincent.
Harper Voyager. 2016

rating : 6 : unfinishable
review : 12 June 2017

Mabily “Mab” Jones is just a twenty-something, over-educated, under-employed New Yorker trying to survive as a private eye’s unpaid intern … or is she? Once a powerful fairy, but tricked by the Fairy Queen into human form, Mab is forced to face her changeling past when investigating a missing person case at a modern speakeasy.

Obadiah Savage bootlegs fairy Elixir to human customers thirsting for a magical fix. But when Mab and Obadiah become joint suspects in a crime they didn’t commit, the only way to prove their innocence is to travel back to the fairy realm. And when Mab confronts the Fairy Queen and learns the depth of her betrayal, she must decide if the fate of the fey world is worth destroying the lives of the humans she’s come to love.

Mabily Jones was a fairy, but is now a changeling, tricked into permanent human form 22 years ago by the Fairy Queen, to investigate the theft of Elixir from the fairy realm. She’s now grown up, and just landed a job as a PI. Her first case reconnects her with Faerie.

I gave up on this just over 100 pages in (that is, after a single sitting). There were two main reasons: some slight sloppiness in continuity, which I would have been able to get past if it weren’t for some major feelings of disbelief.

First, the sloppiness, in the form of the mystery of the enchanted coat. Mab is on her first case, sent to a nightclub to question the owner, Obadiah, about a missing person. All of Mab’s actions are described in detail, which is why there’s a problem. Here’s what happens:

Mab is wearing her roommate Eva’s “too-short dress”, hidden under a “bulky winter coat”. She walks up to the door of the club, knocks, steps inside, walks forward into the room full of people, and starts watching them. Obadiah invites her to dance. [In her bulky winter coat? No, it’s clear from the description that she’s just in the too-short dress now. Okay, she must have taken her coat off at some point, but I’m not sure when she could have done this.] She takes the opportunity to interrogate him; he counters by declaring she is a changeling. They go immediately to another room, to continue their discussion. [Definitely no detouring past a bar stool to pick up her discarded coat.] She feels awkward, so stands with her hands in her pockets. [Pockets? The "too-short dress" has pockets? Or has she put her coat back on, without saying? But how did she get it back?] They talk some more, and she turns to leave, grabbing her coat from the bar stool. [Wait, what? Was she wearing the coat all the time? When did she take it off? How did it get on the bar stool?]

Okay, maybe that sounds a tad picky. But it’s all of a piece. That “too-short dress”, borrowed from Eva? Well, we later discover Mab is tiny: a mere 4 foot 11 tall. Unless Eva is similarly extraordinarily petite, her dress would be like a tent on Mab! (Oh, and surely Mab’s height should have been obvious while dancing with Obadiah, who appears to be about the same height as the enormous hulking bouncer?)

But worst of all is Mab’s reaction when Eva is nearly killed, and the police threaten to charge her with murder if Eva dies unless she implicates Obadiah. She refuses, and she’s terrified, but then does nothing about this. She waits three days to tell her boss, when I would have expected her to be on to him for legal help immediately, since she was working on a case for him at the time (and she texts him about what she discovered from Obadiah in the meantime). And she says she’s going to wait until she visits her parents at Christmas to tell them, as she doesn’t want to have the conversation over the phone. What?! Okay, maybe she is that stupid. But if so, I don’t want to read any more. Sorry.