Three weeks before winter break started, I bought a stack of books in anticipation of being able to lie in a sunny spot on the floor and read all I wanted. The Good Fairies of New York was at the top of the stack. Partly because it’s a petite wee thing, like its subjects, but also because it seemed like such a beguiling idea. Two fairies with torn kilts and brilliantly dyed hair escape from Scotland and come to New York, hoping to start the world’s first radical Celtic punk band. What could be more charming?
I had planned to be swept off my feet, but although I enjoyed the book, it never really stole my heart. The characters, with the exception a wiry and lunatic homeless woman, all seemed two-dimensional to me. The plot got mired in a loop of repeated, frustrating action in the middle and didn’t launch out of it for about 30 pages. The two main characters are hilarious, but I never quite overcame my urge to send them for a time out. Neil Gaiman wrote a generous and lovely introduction to the book, and while he claims to be mystified about Martin Millar’s status as a slightly lesser author in the ranks of British fantasy novelists, I can see why that is. It didn’t help that I was simultaneously reading a perfect short story of Gaiman’s at the same time (“October in the Chair”), and so was reminded of his more masterful ability.
Still, it’s not a pleasing read. The final scenes are so speedy and tie up all the gags so brilliantly, that I wasn’t sorry. And I don’t think you will be, either.