January 2009, Orchard Books
320 pages, Paperback
Summary from Orchard Books
Once upon a time, a fairy is born. She lives in an old oak tree at the bottom of a garden with the rest of the fairy folk. Never has she known a time when life hasn't been hard, with many dangers and much adversity. But when she becomes the Hunter of the group and learns to do battle in the outside world, her adventures really take off...
Don't read this book if you're expecting fairy dust - the last thing Knife is likely to wield is a magic wand...
Knife is a fairy with attitude - can't you tell from the way she's standing on the front cover? Initially she isn't even called Knife. Knife, nee Bryony, wants to go outside. Outside is a place where most fairies aren't allowed to go. It isn't safe there. That doesn't stop Bryony from taking a trip out there. Yes, she gets punished for it. But it is this small rebellion which sets her life on a different course.
Bryony/Knife isn't looked upon favourably by all the fairies. Thankfully there are a few who are fond of her, especially her foster mother. It is these she wants to protect when she learns the dangers their home is in. She will do anything to save her people, even if it means disobeying them and visiting the humans in the nearby house.
It is through these illicit visits that Knife learns the dark secrets that the fairy queen keeps close to her. Knife has to make heart breaking decisions, save her people or follow her heart.
I guess I liked Knife as a character because of her attitude. She's different. She wants to be true to her self. It is through her inquisitive and sometimes reckless nature that she's able to help the fairies. When she chooses her new name, Knife, it reminds me of the moment in the video game Final Fantasy 9. One of the main characters, Princess Garnet, has to hide her identity (although to be fair, she still wears the same outfit which surely would have been a big give away if it were a book). She looks at the weapon she borrowed of the main male character, Zidane, and decides that she wants to be called Dagger. Knife's name change is similar to this, and equally cool.
This is a series I will be re-reading because of Knife, and the fine blend of drama and humour. Knife is backed up by a fine cast of secondary characters who are as memorable as she is. The really mean fairies are the polar opposite to the really nice fairies. Then there are the fairies who want to help Knife, but who also want to obey the rules of the land. Knife learns that getting what she wants comes with responsibilities and dangers that she previously never thought of. However, with her trusty name-sake in her hand, she's more than able to stand up to whatever she encounters.
Make sure you check out R J Anderson's site (where the books have different covers, and different titles)
The story of Knife's world is continued in Rebel.