Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce
Random House, 2012
Tara Martin disappeared at age 16, her boyfriend the last person to see her, leading the police - and her family - to believe he probably killed her. Her brother, Peter, had been best friends with her boyfriend, Richie, and Tara's parents thought well of the young man. He was like a second son to them.Though difficult to believe he would harm her, what else could they think? Then it comes out that she had been pregnant, Richie admitting they'd argued the last time they were together. Ultimately, Richie did serve a brief sentence, but he was not convicted of her murder. There was no proof, no body.
Twenty years later, on Christmas Day, Tara turned up on her parents' doorstep, looking no older than when she left. When asked to explain what happened and where she'd been she tells a story about having passed into another world, a sort of "fairy kingdom," taken by a man on a white horse. She had no idea twenty years had passed; to her it was no more than six months.
Subjected to psychiatric and medical analysis, no logical, acceptable explanation can be found. Was she really abducted by fairy people, as she claims?
The story is clever but a bit too "modern," too sexually-oriented to find charming. It also contains plot points that are not fleshed out, not given enough time and detail. When an elderly woman hears about Tara and tells her she not only believed her but had been taken, herself, when she was younger the scene is glossed over. What could have been revelatory, the chance to write a mirror story to fill out the plot and make it all the more convincing, turned out to be two brief encounters between the two women.
Overall, the book was unsatisfying. It's unique, as far as my limited experience reading about fairy abduction scenarios, but disappointingly developed. Also, Joyce's writing is occasionally pedestrian, lapsing into distinctly conventional prose. It wasn't lyrical enough, considering the subject matter and all the story could have been.
I semi-recommend it, for its interesting take on the genre, but don't expect greatness. What's telling is I didn't note any passages to pass along, nothing to exhibit lyrical prose. Oh, what it could have been.