Delia Sherman knows her myths and legends.
And in this book, she puts a hearty number of them through their paces. Neef is a changeling in New York, or more specifically, the mythical place of New York In Between, where all the Tanukis, leshii, bogeymen, vodyanoi, and the cast of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe live.
She gets in trouble when she stays up for the first time to go to a Solstice Dance and is given three impossible tasks to accomplish before she can go home again.
I really enjoyed this book. I loved the portrayal of the tanuki and tengu in this book, very cute.
Neef’s adventures are imaginative and yet not unbelievable. What I mean is, often in folktales the heroine/hero is so extremely clever, solving riddles, trapping bad guys, etc, that it makes them seem far away from the reader. But Neef isn’t as clever as she thinks, and she does fail, making her easy to identify with.
The only thing about this book, which may not be a weakness, especially if it was being read by a younger child, is that the touch of evil, wickedness, deep danger, I feel when reading Holly Black or Melissa Marr isn’t present.
I like a sense of wild danger with my faeries, which isn’t here. Even the most dangerous beings here, the wild hunt and a dragon, don’t seem likely to hurt Neef.