First off I need to say a huge thank you to Curiosity Quills Press for sending me an eBook copy of 'Fairy Keeper' in exchange for a fair and honest review!
'Fairy Keeper' is Amy Bearce's debut novel and it is an absolute achievement. Gripping you from the word go, you can't help but be pulled into the world she's created which is filled to the brim with magic and marvel.
Sierra is a fairy keeper, much to her chagrin. By being born with the fairy keeper mark on the back of her neck, her destiny has been decided for her since day one, which is something she despises. Her father, Jack, is a dark alchemist, so the nectar that she collects from her fairies only goes towards furthering his nefarious goings on - most well known being his creation of an addictive substance called Flight. When we start the novel, Sierra is in the middle of collecting the nectar from her fairies when an earthquake hits, an event that has become scarily common in the world of Aluvia over the past few months. Because of the earthquake, Sierra goes back to her fairy hatch to attempt to collect more nectar, terrified of what Jack will do to her, or her little sister Phoebe, if he returned home and discovered she'd wasted a single precious drop of the nectar he uses in Flight. However, when Sierra gets to her fairy hatch, she discovers all of her charges have dropped dead, and her fairy queen - inventively named Queen - has disappeared...
This is a quest novel in the purest form, which is something I haven't read in a very long time. Once Sierra realises her queen has disappeared, Jack decides to send Phoebe away with one of the men that he works with, not wanting to risk losing any of the money from their Flight deal which has just fallen through. However, Phoebe can stay at home if Sierra manages to find her queen within a month, so she sets off the next day - accompanied only by her father's enforcer and her long time nemesis, Nell. When her best friend Corbin also discovers that his fairy has disappeared, he decides to go with them, commencing a long and difficult journey to the mystically inhabited Skyclad Mountains.
Some aspects of the novel do drag, but that's almost to be expected in a book that involves long distance travelling; it would be completely improbable if something gripping and exciting happened every day that they traveled. However, these scenes are few and far between, because most of the time the events that occur between the three friends are interesting and exciting. The relationships between the three of them fluctuate regularly: tensions grow between Corbin and Sierra as he develops a stronger friendship with Nell, and Nell and Sierra's relationship becomes complicated to say the least after a couple of life-threatening events unfold. Some of the conflicts between the characters seem a little childish, but with Sierra only being fourteen - and this being a middle grade now - this is also something that I'd expected, and while some of her actions did annoy me these were also not too common throughout.
On the whole, this book is brilliant. With unicorns who shed their horns, dragons, fauns and mermen, (not forgetting the fairies, of course!) the mystical creatures in this book are captivating and written amazingly well. While none of the creatures are completely new inventions, the way that Amy Bearce has included them is refreshing and entertaining. The whole premise of fairies being kept similarly to bees, creating nectar instead of pollen, is so unique - definitely not something I'd ever considered before! - and it's very easy to fall in love with the world of Aluvia.
The ending of the book does wrap up quite well, so I'm thinking that this could be a standalone, but if Amy ever decided to revisit Sierra and her friends in the future I would love to read more of their adventures. A brilliant debut novel!
I'm going to be involved in the blog tour for this book, which commences on the 23rd of March, so keep an eye out for my Spotlight on Amy Bearce in the next couple of weeks!