In last year’s Wings, Salt Lake City native Aprilynne Pike introduced us to Laurel, a 15-year-old girl whose discovery of her mysterious, magical history—she’s actually a faerie—had a whiff of Harry Potter. In Spells, the comparison becomes complete, as Laurel heads to school to learn the tricks of the faerie trade.
Laurel’s first journey to the faerie realm of Avalon is intended to help her learn her destined role as a healer and preparer of magical mixtures. Yet it also becomes an opportunity for her to wrestle with the societal differences between the human world in which she was raised and the socially stratified faerie realm—while also learning what it will take to keep her alive when trolls are out to kill her.
Despite its surface similarities to that certain literary teen wizard, Pike’s tale is more than another derivative hero-quest narrative. While telling a fanciful story about faeries and trolls, she cleverly interweaves an effective teen coming-of-age yarn, as now-16-year-old Laurel deals with her adoptive human mother’s emotional distance as well as her conflicting feelings about her human boyfriend and the faerie fellow who also adores her. With clean, unaffected prose, Pike uses her unique spin on faerie lore as a metaphor for any adolescent trying to understand herself in the world.
And if along the way we meet gun-toting trollhunters and learn that William Shakespeare got some of his ideas from mythical creatures—well, that’s just part of the fun.