Book: Fairy Struck: A Reverse Harem Fairy Romance by Amy Sumida (2015)
Age/Genre: Urban Fantasy
Content Notes: Judgmental language, including homophobia and racism
I am currently planning my wedding, which means I’m trying not to spend excessive amounts of money on books…You can probably guess how well that’s working out. I have been relying heavily on a free e-book email list to get me through this. Unfortunately, those free e-books are usually part of a series with the potential for me to get hooked and then have to spend money to discover what happens next. Thankfully, the entire Twilight Court series, which Fairy Struck initiates, is available through my Kindle Unlimited subscription!
This part of the review is where I usually give a plot synopsis, but I need to give a little backstory for the plot to make sense. In the beginning, two gods were born on the planet Fairy – twins – a male, named Anu and a female, named Danu. Soon thereafter, Anu created a portal to another planet, very similar to Fairy in living conditions and land mass, called Earth. Earth and Fairy are in different solar systems, but are connected by paths that shorten the travel distance considerably. Fairy has magic; Earth does not. In fact, Earth in the Twilight Court series is very similar to the Earth we live on. Most humans are not aware that fairies and magic are real.
Following the Fey wars, where Seelie (the Court of Light fey who get their magic from daytime) and Unseelie (the Court of Dark fey who get their magic from night) fought for supremacy, Fey was split into Kingdoms: Seelie, which covers a landmass slightly larger than Europe and Africa; Unseelie, which covers a landmass slightly larger than Asia (including most of the Middle East), Alaska, and Australia; and Twilight, which covers North and South America, and the “between” territories in Europe and Asia (like the parts of the Middle East that Unseelie does not rule over). As a result of the Fey wars, many fairies were displaced and chose to make their homes on Earth.
This caused the second great conflict: the Human-Fey wars. Noticeably losing due to their lack of magic and the unawareness of many humans, the humans sought a treaty with the fey. As a result, there is now a Human Council and a Fairy Council, which create agreed-upon laws. These laws are enforced by either the Extinguishers – a group of psychically gifted humans who track down delinquent fairies – or the Wild Hunt – a group of specially trained fey who track down humans in violation of the treaty.
Seren Sloane, the main character of the Twilight Court series, was raised as an Extinguisher. She and her parents sought to protect the treaty by apprehending and occasionally executing fairies in violation of the treaty. About a year prior to the events of this book, Seren’s mother was killed by a pack of pukas – giant fairy dogs that can also shift into horses. Seren and her father took out their fury on the fairy criminals they were sent to find until the Human Council sent them to Hawaii – a place with very little fairy activity. I don’t want to spoil the plot too much, so I’m going to stop there and talk about the writing a little.
As I mentioned earlier in the review, there are two gods in the book’s universe – Anu for Earth and Danu for Fairy. The characters generally imply that humans lost track of Anu long ago because of his hands-off approach to “guiding his children.” It is mentioned that all human religions have aspects of Anu but the humans are basically guessing. Fairies are immortal, so they remember the days when Danu spoke directly to every fairy who needed her guidance, although the fairies haven’t heard Danu for a couple of millenia. The primary reason that fairies continued their faith in Danu was their long lives. It also helped that a phenomenon called “The Call of Danu,” basically strong lust that draws two unlikely fairies together to procreate, still occurs with some regularity and creates new races or fairies with future importance.
Anyway, because the humans on Earth have been out of contact with Anu for so long, they stopped caring for nature. Humans are essentially destroying their planet with carbon emissions and garbage, etc. Sound familiar? This concept kind of makes me think that this series started as speculative fiction: What if Mother Nature never stepped foot on Earth and humans only knew of her existence because of visiting fairies? I ended up choosing to think of these books as purely urban fantasy fiction because I got pretty irritated at the execution when I thought about it in too much depth.
The fairies’ attitudes toward humans vary widely, but they share horror for the ways humans treat Earth. I really got pissed off at the holier-than-thou fairies every time they talked about how terrible humans are to Earth, but admired humans for their innovations in technology and travel. Beings on Earth are all mortal and have no magic, so by necessity they developed faster (and safer) travel, ways to communicate long distances, methods to heal wounds, etc. without magic. Those things, unfortunately, took a toll on nature. Fairies have magic-imbued crystals to call each other, portals to travel long distances, and magical healers. Fairies were also completely unwilling to share their abilities with humans. One example is communication crystals: only the humans on a few Human Councils have access to a crystal before the events of this book. So, every time a fairy made a judgmental statement, I wanted to reach into the book and smack them upside the head with their hypocrisy.
But all of that could be put aside for the sake of the story. The primary aspect of this book that I struggled with was the judgmental portrayal of sexual relationships. I know, you’re thinking, “How is a book with a title that includes the words ‘Reverse Harem’ judgmental?” The story seemed to marginalize any relationship that wasn’t composed of a heterosexual couple making babies. Fairies frequently participate in polyamorous relationships with no judgment. As long as all parties are happy with the arrangement, they don’t see it as wrong. In fact, Danu frequently encourages polyamory in these books. Humans, on the other hand, are purely monogamous. Seren, the narrator, struggles with her attraction to multiple men, thinking she can’t possibly be in love with multiple men because it’s “unnatural.” And to top it off, there are no mentions of homosexuality or couples who choose not to procreate at all. I actually wondered if homosexuality didn’t exist in this world at all until much later in the series.
Seren’s backstory and the plot of this series is pretty engaging otherwise. I ended up reading the rest of the series, and several of the concerns I had as I read this first book were resolved or reduced enough so I wasn’t distracted from the rest of the story. This series has some very Halloween-appropriate content, so I was satisfied with my decision to spend October reading this series.
Now that October is almost over, I want to take this opportunity to remind our readers in the United States that Election Day is November 3rd. Go VOTE! We don’t care who you vote for, but remember to exercise your right to impact future laws and the people who will create them, especially in those local races that often get overlooked.