Click here to buy it now: Elsewhere
Written by: Will Shetterly
Published by: Magic Carpet Books
Reviewed by Ismael Manzano
Elsewhere, by Will Shetterly is a fantasy book that I picked up in my usual fashion: I read the jacket and decided it was offbeat enough to make the grade. Not only was I right, but while reading it, I was treated to a delightful storyline that was so far from the beaten path of fantasy novels I had to purchase the sequel NeverNever. Even though the light prose of Elsewhere merits its place in the juvenile section of the bookstore, the story is anything but juvenile. The dialogue, especially, is gritty and realistic, and overall, well written.
At the heart of Elsewhere, the story revolves around a young man named Ron, who leaves the real world for Bordertown to escape the death of his brother. Ronís sanity is left in question when at times it is hinted that he is also searching for his brother. Bordertown is a midway place between the real world and the world of Faeries who, after countless years in hiding, finally make their presence known. In Bordertown, Faeries, humans and Halflings co-exist, albeit not always peacefully, in a setting that is reminiscent of the punk-rock era of the seventies. Every aspect of their lives is hard and dangerous, from street gangs to dance clubs to motorcycle racing, itís a beat-or-be-beaten kind of world and Shetterly gives it life by keeping it as honest as possible.
Shortly upon entering Bordertown, Ron meets up with Mooner and Wiseguy, a brother and sister duo of Faeries that are part of the biggest gang of mixed species in Bordertown. He likes Mooner and falls in love with Wiseguy, and as he acclimates himself to the strange new world, he makes friends in places even Ron hadnít expected.
The story takes a darker twist when the building used as a safe haven for his eclectic gang of misfits burns down, causing them all to scatter and seek refuge in other gangs. Ron finds his place among the dregs of Bordertown, adopting the name Gone because he spent so much of his time high off of Bordertownís equivalent of opium. Shortly afterwards, a chance encounter with a former friend of Moonerís gang, leaves him transformed in more ways than one, completely alone but sober for the first time in months, and with a new persona befitting his new appearance.
The aftermath of that encounter thrusts Ron into a secret political war between the Faeries of Bordertown and the Faeries abroad, and allows him to finally reconcile with the death of his beloved brother as well as reunite with some lost friends.
Overall, Elsewhere is a good solid read, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in a fantasy book with genuine twist. But donít let the word Faerie fool you; these probably arenít the magical creatures youíre used to, and if you expect a high moral code or staunch ethics from your pointy-eared characters, you will be disappointed.
I was equally impressed by the sequel, NeverNever, and the authorís bold decision to keep Ron exactly as he was at the end of the first book. I didnít think he could pull it off, but he did, and I hardly noticed the difference. Good job, Mr. Shetterly.
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