fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews Jane Yolen Midori Snyder Except the QueenExcept the Queen by Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder

In Except the Queen, two faerie sisters, Serana and Meteora, accidentally learn a scandalous secret about the faerie queen and let it slip. For their transgression, the two women are separated and banished to mortal Earth to live among humans. They are completely adrift in this new world, and if that weren’t bad enough, their new human bodies are old and overweight.

I think Except the Queen is meant — at least in part — as an exploration of aging. Most of us don’t get magically zapped into older bodies overnight, true. But I think most of us feel sometimes like our aging bodies, with their aches, pains, and gray hairs, aren’t really our “true” bodies. We still feel like the same person we were at 16, 18, 20, so who is this stranger in the mirror with the crow’s feet? And I think we all feel disconnected, sometimes, from the new generation of young people: their slang, their fashions, etc.

Unfortunately, in Except the Queen, this alienation sometimes seems to tip over the line into “Kids These Days”/”Get Off My Lawn.” Kids these days use the F-word and the S-word. Kids these days party too much. Kids these days get tattoos! I’m not sure, at 32, whether I’m supposed to side with the older women against the young hooligans or whether I’m supposed to feel like a hooligan myself.

I’m also disappointed that the Latino character’s Spanish is wrong. I don’t mean slang. I mean using ustedes to refer to a singular person, that kind of thing. It’s strange, because this would have been pretty easy to research and get right.

Most problematically, the plot just doesn’t have a lot of forward momentum, at least for me. The prose is beautifully crafted, but the story is not keeping me turning pages.

This is really a “DNF-for-now” rather than a “DNF-forever.” I’ve greatly admired both Jane Yolen’s and Midori Snyder’s work in the past, and on the strength of that work and of the lovely writing in Except the Queen, I think I’ll probably give it another shot someday. Maybe the second time will be the charm.

Except the Queen —(2009) With Midori Snyder. Publisher: From award winning authors Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder comes a tale of two worlds — and one destiny… Sisters Serena and Meteora were once proud members of the high court of the Fairy Queen- until they played a prank that angered her highness. Separated and banished to the mortal realm of Earth, they must find a way to survive in a strange world in which they have no power. But there is more to their new home than they first suspect…A sympathetic Meteora bonds with a troubled young girl with an ornate tattoo on her neck. Meteora recognizes it as a magic symbol that will surely bring danger down on them all. Serena, meanwhile, takes in a tortured homeless boy whose mind is plagued by dark visions. The signs point to a rising power that threatens to tear asunder both fairy and human worlds. And the sisters realize that perhaps the queen cast them fromtheir homes not out of anger or spite- but because they were the only ones who could do what must be done…


  • Kelly Lasiter

    KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.