I so enjoyed Stefan Bachmann's The Peculiar last year that I was thrilled to find the sequel, The Whatnot, on the library shelves this month.
The faeries have been expelled from human London. They and anyone who has anything to do with fairies are hunted down, jailed and executed.
Street urchin, Pikey, knows that he has to keep his faery-plucked eye hidden. Somehow, he can see a different world and in that world he sees a changeling, branch-haired girl, wandering. Then someone steals his eye patch and his attempts to hide this evidence of faery involvement land him in jail.
Meanwhile, in the faery domain, Hettie and her faery butler savior are struggling endlessly towards a cottage that gets no nearer.
Bartie and his friend from the House of Lords are searching for a door that will allow them to save Hettie.
Yep, time for some adventure, battlefields, weirdness, clever twists and sudden revelations. Those revelations all have little clues leading up to them but the reader is still surprised.
I found myself skimming a little bit. The emptiness of the fairy realm depressed me. So I glossed over some of the descriptions. Don't do that. I had to go back for the breadcrumbs that Bachmann dropped so I could understand what happened next.
Pikey, Hettie, Bartie and the young Lord, whose name I simply can't remember - poor thing, all come together with a bunch of faeries, some evil, some benign, in an attempt to stop bloodshed and treachery from destroying their world. Whew! Bachmann pulls it off.
I give this book four out of five stars. In a sequel, the element of delight in a new setting wanes. And the faerie world, caught as it was in its self-appointed King's power struggle, was bleak. Those were the only complaints.