Phoebe, a descendant of the legendary Mayer Rothschild and his banking family, is drawn to odd fellow seventh-grader Mallory and vows to befriend her. What readers already know is that Mallory has left the faerie world at the behest of her queen to settle a score, though details of what's at stake are deliciously drawn out. The story jumps six years. Now 18, Mallory is a beauty and Phoebe is not, but the balance of power seemingly stays with Phoebe, whose family has offered both kindness and money to simplify Mallory's life. As she understands the meaning of friendship, it becomes difficult for her to draw Phoebe into a web of deception. Enter Mallory's brother, Ryland, older, more cunning, and willing to do what he must to save the faerie world. Medieval Jewish history, ethical questions, faeries, modern romance. Whew! In the hands of a less-talented author, this would be a hot mess. Happily, Werlin crafts her characters so deftly and unrolls the story so cleverly that despite some rough juxtapositions (and a final meandering conversation), readers will be under the spell till the end. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews
Privileged Phoebe, living in the shadow of her "extraordinary" family, is drawn to strange new-girl Mallory; the two become inseparable. Interspersed "Conversation[s] with the Faerie Queen" reveal that Mallory is not what she appears, and that Phoebe is a cog in a mission to collect a debt for the faerie folk. Werlin smoothly blends contemporary realism and fantasy in this suspenseful tale. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews
A present-day teen's search for self collides with a magical faerie world in this suspenseful fantasy. As a privileged Rothschild daughter, Phoebe lives in the shadow of her "extraordinary" family and her brilliant, powerful mother, fearing that she is the only ordinary person among them. In middle school, Phoebe is instantly drawn to the strange new girl Mallory and offers her friendship and advice. Over the course of four years, the girls become inseparable, and late-bloomer Phoebe relies on now-gorgeous Mallory to take the lead. Interspersed "Conversation[s] with the Faerie Queen" reveal that Mallory is not what she appears, and that Phoebe is merely a cog in a desperate mission to collect an old debt for the faerie folk. Mallory's captivating brother Ryland is sent to finish the job, threatening not only vulnerable Phoebe but her family as well. As she did in Impossible (rev. 9/08), Werlin smoothly blends contemporary realism and fantasy, here basing the story on the real historical figure Mayer Rothschild and spinning his family's extraordinary success into a supernatural bargain. The faerie garden behind Ryland's bedroom door comes to life with the texture, scent, and sound of enchanted flora and fauna. Ryland's cold seduction and manipulation of Phoebe is palpably dangerous; the "glamoured" Phoebe can't recognize the predatory nature of his sexual advances. In contrast, the genuine warmth of Mallory's friendship allows some hope in spite of her terrible betrayal. Phoebe's final reckoning with the faeries tests her own inner strength; ultimately her survival depends on it -- just as in the real world. lauren adams Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Phoebe Rothschild—yes, of those Rothschilds—dumps her toxic friends for new girl Mallory in seventh grade. After four years of best friendship, Mallory is gorgeous and stylish—and, unbeknownst to Phoebe, she's also not human. In brief snippets between chapters, readers learn that Mallory has been sent by the faerie queene to manipulate Phoebe for some dark purpose. When Mallory fails (or refuses) to bring Phoebe into line, the faeries send Mallory's brother Ryland, who glamours Phoebe into dazed, romantic compliance. This is no typical paranormal romance: Phoebe's conviction of Ryland's shimmering worth and her belief that she is unworthy are portrayed as uncannily dreadful. This proudly Jewish fantasy offers a compelling tale of friendship and a refreshing antidote to faerie stories about that one special girl deserving of supernatural love. Beguiling as it is, though, this modern fairy tale isn't quite up to the standards of Werlin's thrillers and darker fare. Can we enjoy this while hoping future fantastic outings share the taut construction of The Killer's Cousin (1998), Double Helix (2004) and The Rules of Survival (2006)? (Fantasy. YA) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Media Connection
Wealthy Phoebe Rothchild befriends Mallory Tolliver in seventh grade. Although they come from very different backgrounds, the two become fast friends throughout high school. Things change when Mallory's brother Ryland turns up and Phoebe falls for him. He doesn't treat Phoebe very nicely, and Mallory is becoming nasty, too. Short chapters, which feature conversations between the Faerie Queen and an unknown individual are interjected throughout the story. As the conversations continue, the Faerie Queen seems to be becoming weaker and weaker, as are Ryland and Mallory. The ending reveals an agreement between an ancestor of Phoebe and the Faerie Queen. As Mallory is led deeper into the plot and the faerie world, the reader struggles to understand what will happen. This exciting novel will appeal to fantasy lovers as well as to others, because there is enough reality in the story. The descriptions are beautiful and the mystery is revealed appropriately. The characters are likeable and be ievable. This is an excellent addition to any library. Recommended. Bonnie Morris, Media Generalist, Minnehaha Academy, Minneapolis, Minnesota ¬ 2011 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Phoebe Rothschild is a descendant of Mayer Rothschild, the 18th-century founder of a banking dynasty. In seventh grade, she befriends Mallory, and the two become close as sisters. But Mallory has a secret: she is a faerie, and her mission is to sabotage Phoebe's self-worth. Mallory is unable to get the job done, so years later her handsome brother, Ryland, arrives and uses glamour to get Phoebe to fall for him. The plot rests, shakily, on backstory about a bargain Mayer Rothschild struck with the faerie queen two centuries earlier: she would give him five extraordinary sons in exchange for one ordinary female heir to be sacrificed to the faerie kingdom. The passages in which Ryland verbally attacks the stout, plain Phoebe are painful reading: "There's just something really wrong with you," Ryland tells her. "Phoebe had been absolutely naked when he'd said this." Though Werlin (Impossible) raises interesting questions about honesty, love, and what it truly means to be "extraordinary," those topics get lost amid the slow pace and dialogue that sacrifices realism for emotional heft. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews
Gr 8 Up—Phoebe Rothschild meets Mallory Tolliver when they are in seventh grade. Mallory, a pariah among the popular set, is saved by Phoebe, who rejects the clique and embraces the new girl as her best friend. Four years later, when the girls are juniors in high school, Mallory reveals the existence of her half-brother, Ryland, who is 24 and irresistible. He is one of the fey, as is Mallory, and he uses fairy glamour for diabolical ends; dialogues between the Faerie Queen and Mallory and the Faerie Queen and Ryland reveal that the fey have deadly plans for the unsuspecting Phoebe. Ryland informs the Queen that Phoebe will be easy to seduce but Phoebe, even though bound by magic, still manages to resist submitting fully. Real-world conversations and settings are distinctly rendered, as are Phoebe's glimpses of Faerie, and although the intermittent dialogues with the Faerie Queen sometimes feel stilted, they provide critical backstory. The denouement flounders ever so slightly in overexplanation, but the carefully nuanced, often sensual prose delivers a highly effective narrative. Characterizations are arresting and complex: Phoebe, thoughtful and loyal, is bravely compassionate; Mallory, divided and determined, elicits reluctant sympathy; and Ryland, controlling and manipulative, is scarily realistic. Werlin's intricately constructed plot combines fairy lore, family history, and coming of age in an engrossing, often suspenseful story that moves smoothly to its inevitable end. Phoebe's intellectual and emotional transformation from ordinary to extraordinary is of her own volition, which makes her the compelling force of this bittersweet fairy tale.—Janice M. Del Negro, GSLIS Dominican University, River Forest, IL[Page 128]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Voice of Youth Advocates Reviews
Phoebe is a privileged child, the daughter of the powerful and wealthy Catherine Rothschild and descendent of the great businessman Mayer Rothschild. With her heritage, she certainly belongs in the popular clique at school, which is why no one can fathom why she befriends the peculiar and socially-awkward new girl, Mallory Tolliver. Despite their differences, their friendship soon blossoms into a sisterly bond, with Phoebe's family helping to care for Mallory and her ill mother. Something is not quite right with Mallory, however, and this mysteriousness is compounded when her previously unheard-of older brother, Ryland, surfaces. Phoebe is dangerously drawn to him, despite his mistreatment of her. When Mallory ends the friendship, Phoebe, vulnerable and heartbroken, is left with only Ryland to turn to, but the worst is yet to come, for Mallory and Ryland are drawing Phoebe into a terrible trap, one from which she may not be able to escape This novel is wrought with tension and suspense, and keeps readers guessing until the end. Phoebe and Mallory's friendship is well-developed, and both are believable, dynamic characters; however, the relationship between Ryland and Phoebe is an uncomfortable one, as it often crosses the line into mental and emotional abuse. These passages are difficult to read, especially since this aspect is not completely resolved by the end of the novel. Phoebe's willingness to let Ryland influence her self-perception and decimate her confidence will frustrate some readers, though most will still find the novel and its fae mythology intriguing.—Courtney Huse Wika 3Q 4P J S Copyright 2010 Voya Reviews.