Summary quoted from Doubleday Books¹:
For twenty years after Tara Martin disappeared from her small English town, her parents and her brother, Peter, have lived in denial of the grim fact that she was gone for good. And then suddenly, on Christmas Day, the doorbell rings at her parents’ home and there, disheveled and slightly peculiar looking, Tara stands. It’s a miracle, but alarm bells are ringing for Peter. Tara’s story just does not add up. And, incredibly, she barely looks a day older than when she vanished.
Some Kind of Fairy Tale is set in a town in England and its surroundings and in a (parallel?) place where the so-called (or not called) fairies live. The England setting is really nothing special. The only image that somehow stood out for me was the Outwoods in spring while they were covered in bluebells. I liked Joyce’s description here but somehow, I still could not really smell the bluebells. As to the “fairy land” (I’ll just call it that way), I had problems connecting to it. Somehow the description of the setting did not feel complete for me. It did not really enchant me.
This is also something that I felt missing for some characters: completeness. There were quite a lot of characters involved in this story and it seems like Mr. Joyce could not make up his mind which characters were his main characters. Who were they? It is clear that Tara was one of them. But Peter? Richie? Jack? Mr. Underwood? Mrs. Larwood? Hiero? I could not connect to many of them because there seemed to be something missing.
As to the story, it is original, that is for sure. I really liked the idea and I really liked the outcome. What I did not like, was that it took me until chapter 10 to get into the story. That is almost 70 pages. When I chose this book, I was not interested in reading about a court case. I wanted to read about a fairy tale, or at least a fairy tale like story. I also did not want to read about a psychiatrist taking notes on a patient. These are two of the things that annoyed me most about this book: the court case and Mr. Underwood’s notes. The third thing has to do with writing style: Mr. Joyce hops around between perspectives all the time. Once you get into the story a chapter ends and you are in the head of another character again. This totally turned me off and was confusing. Of course, this technique works very well with 2 or 3 perspectives but with as many as Mr. Joyce used, it gets confusing.
All in all, Some Kind of Fairy Tale was a nice novel with an original story, that, unfortunately, was confusing and could have been an easier read, if only the writing style would have been different.