The May book in the Women of Fantasy book club.

Publication year: 1987
Page count: 327
Format: ebook from the 2001 reprint with introduction by the author and an appendix with three scenes from the screenplay
Publisher: Orb

Eddi McCandry is a singer and a musician in her boyfriend’s band, InKline Plain. Unfortunately for her, she and her best friend, the drummer Carla, are probably the best musicians in the band which is doing pretty badly. Eddi’s boyfriend and the band leader Stuart Kline just wants Eddi to flirt with the bar managers to get more gigs or payments for underwhelming gigs. Eddi has had enough and quits the band and the relationship. Carla quits the band, too.

On her way to her apartment, Eddi meets a strange man and a big black dog. It turns out that the dog and the man are the same thing: a faerie creature called the Phouka. The Seelie Court needs a mortal in its service and has chosen Eddi. She’s less than thrilled, especially when she finds out that the Unseelie Court are trying to kill her and so the charmingly unflappable Phouka will be her bodyguard for the next six months until the Faerie Courts battle each other. Which means that he will be on her side all the time.

Meanwhile, Eddi has to eat and pay rent, so she sets out to do what she knows best: to build a band of her own.

The book is set in Minneapolis and a lot centers on the day-to-day life of a rock band. I’m not a music fan, in fact I’ve never even been to a concert, and this was sufficiently alien world to me that it felt interesting. Often, the songs that the band is playing or rehearsing are mentioned, and since I’m reading an ebook, I was able to play the songs on the computer while reading the book. This is was an interesting experience.

I liked the characters. Eddi is an independent woman with a strong will and plenty of opinions. She’s also charismatic on the stage and outside of it. She’s a fun main character to follow. I also liked her best friend Carla, who plays the drums. She’s fiercely protective of Eddi and Carla is the first person Eddi tells about the faery world even though the Phouka objects to it. The ex-boyfriend has a small part. Then there’s the rest of the band who are pretty eccentric characters but slowly become friends.

Phouka is the most prominent fairy character in the book. He’s very loyal to Eddi and we only get glimpses of how often he has to fight to protect her. He doesn’t tell her anything that he doesn’t want to which is frustrating at times. He’s torn between loyalty to his Queen, to his people, and to Eddi. Yet, he’s often cheerful and banters happily with Eddi. I liked him perhaps the most.

Most of the fairy characters remain nameless which I found interesting and made them more alien. We only know them by their title, such as the Fairy Queen or the Queen of Air and Darkness, or by the name of their kind, their race, such as the Phouka and the Glaistig. In fact, only three fairy characters are named: a brownie called Hairy Meg, the Seelie Queen’s Consort, and one other.

The concentrates on slowly revealing more about the customs and people of the Faery world, and on the mortal plane, the band.

The book centers on Eddi so much that it’s almost frustrating to me. There were so much other things going on that I would have liked to learn more about. There’s the conflicts between the Phouka and agents of the Unseelie Court. There’s Stuart whose part turns out to be pretty important (in fact, we get quite a bit more of Stuart’s tale in the appendix). Then there’s the larger conflict between the two faerie courts which, by necessity, isn’t revealed much at all to the mortals.

I liked the start of the book a lot. Then I noticed that the name of one of the early chapter is “It’s so easy to fall in love” and I almost stopped reading the book in frustration. However, it didn’t feel like the current paranormal romances, so I continued and I’m glad, because I liked the book quite a lot.

The book has two romances. Fortunately, neither of them were the paranormal romance kind which I’ve started to loath. There are no asshole jerk “heroes” in the book. The first one was OK. To me it felt at the same time more realistic than usual for UF but it also felt like fairy tale like romance if that makes any sense. Especially how it was resolved. Unfortunately, the second one didn’t really work for me. It felt one of those tacked on romances where the hetero man and woman become lovers because there’s apparently nothing else they can do in a book. I would have much preferred it if they had become reluctant allies or best friends or anything else than the bog standard hetero monogamous pair bond. This is something where I feel that fantasy constantly lets me down by going for the easiest option pretty much every single time. Fortunately, the romances aren’t the main plot at all.

The ending was awesome!