Graham Joyce is again nominated for a World Fantasy Award, this time for Some Kind of Fairy Tale. Our protagonist is...well, we're not sure, the teller is a mystery. And he/she says this is key to the book. But the central character is Tara, a girl who disappeared in the woods near her home for twenty years, then shows up again only being able to account for six months. And that six months was spent in an impossible place.
Her family, and in particular her boyfriend at the time, have to adjust to her reappearance. It's particularly hard for the boyfriend since he was strongly suspected of her murder. She also appears not to have aged, which lends unwilling credibility to her story of only being gone six months.
The characters are what make the story very well worth reading--her farrier brother, her old boyfriend Richie, and an elderly neighbor lady, along with several others, are all fully drawn and human, and it's pretty easy to like them all. Even her misguided psychiatrist doesn't come off as villainous. It's a circle of people all trying to figure out what happened, including Tara.
Who is the voice of the book? I have yet to figure that one out, and in the end I can enjoy just mulling that over. But see Ben Godby's comments on Strange Horizons--he enjoyed the book, but pretty much thought the "unreliable narrator" bit was just pulling our leg. I think I agree.
My favorite part--after a very well-told story, we get a real ending. Some very good authors (I am thinking of early David Brin in the Uplift novels) struggle with endings. Others don't try (see David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest, and a gaggle of other auteurs). I was very moved, and glad to have had the opportunity to read this book. A strong four stars from me.