|Photo by me (Lexi Gagan)|
The one thing I hate about most YA novels is that the characters are predictable. They never go outside the box, they never surprise you. I can tell you now, Isle of Winds is not like any YA novel I have ever read before.
In addition to creating a strong unit of deep and intelligent characters; Fahy has such a talent for high-fantasy storytelling and you feel compelled to immerse yourself in his magical and unique world.
The main character, Robin Fellows, has lived his first 12-years of life as seemingly normal as any other 12-year-old living in North West, England. But when his Gran suddenly dies in mysterious circumstances, his world changes.
He is shipped off to Erlking Hall, a place of many secrets. Some of those secrets directly involve Robin, but he doesn't know that yet. Robin must adjust to his new life, and the realisation that he is the last Changeling, a descendent from the powerful race of Fae. Their homeland, the Netherworlde, has been caught up in a terrible civil war for many years; and its Robin who has come to finally tip the scales.
It's difficult to say anything about this book without giving away all its secrets. Just think Harry Potter (due to the high-fantasy, new-world stuff), meets Red Queen (Robin also has to go the crash course route to find himself), meets The Hobbit (when you meet Waud, you will know what I mean).
There is also a strong historical element to this novel. The tensions between the two peoples, and how oppression effects not only the people, landscape and culture of the present, but of the future too, is very interesting to see in this genre. Whether this parallel was intentional or not, I think it grounds the story in such a way that you could almost imagine it was real.
One thing I also loved about this book is Fahy's use of humour and wit throughout. All the characters have their own personalities. Karya may look like a little girl, but she is strong-minded (and opinionated to Robin's annoyance) and a fighter. She will definitely make a kick-ass female hero if this makes it too the big screen. Robin himself, albeit a nervous thing at times, is intelligent and extremely sarcastic. He comes out with fantastic one-liners in the most awful situations, and you can’t help but wish he was one of your friends.
I thought this book was so well-balanced, it’s got everything – the good guys, the bad guys, the sorrow and the joy, and by the end you feel an innate pride towards all of the character’s and their personal progression throughout novel.
This, paired with Fahy's overwhelming charm which seeps through every chapter, has put this book right near the top of my favourite books of the year pile.
I think it’s safe to say, that Fahy has taught me a distinct lesson about judging a book by its genre.