Thank you to Redhook and Angela Man for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. The Fairy Bargains of Prospect Hill will be available on March 28th.
The Fairy Bargains of Prospect Hill was not at all what I expected. The book starts with a fairy bargain. One of the things that I love about faeries in books is their capriciousess. You never know what you’re going to get. Well, at the beginning, a fairy bargain yields a farm, one that is passed down from generation to generation. Each new family member learns the right way to bargain. You can make little bargains to tweak situations in a favorable way, but beware large ones. You have to be willing to pay the price.
Alaine and Delphine are two sisters with very different ways of trying to make their mark on the world. Alaine now runs the farm that was won in a fairy bargain and wants it to flourish. However, she is rapidly running out of money and banks aren’t known to be patient. Meanwhile her sister, Delphine, wanted to be the wife of a businessman and make her way in society. Both want to be seen as successful, knowledgable, and important, they just have different ideas on how to make that happen. Alaine starts making more bargains than she should, forgetting the rules. Delphine finds out that her husband is an atrocious excuse for a human and has to get out of the relationship.
I expected a book filled with magic. I must admit that the first half of the book or so didn’t really keep my attention. There is a lot of buildup, some of which probably could have been condensed a little. The pacing was odd because of this and I found myself struggling to stay focused. I kept waiting for things to start, eventually noticing that I was almost halfway through the book and nothing much had happened yet. There were a few times that I contemplated setting the book down entirely, but the characters of Alaine and Delphine kept me reading.
This isn’t because they are particularly likeable. They aren’t. They are, however, supremely and believably flawed, which was better. I felt for them. I could see that, despite being selfish or making (really!) bad choices, their reasons made sense in regards to their characters. I felt bad for Delphine in particular, because of her situation with her horrible husband but also because her insecurities were heartbreaking. It was hard to read at times.
The relationship between the two sisters was interesting to watch unfold. They loved each other, but it was a love tempered by misunderstandings and little jealousies. Both saw the other as supremely confident and not needing anyone else. It took a while for either of them to really open up. It was aggravating to read at times because it was also understandable. There may have been some teeth gnashing on my part.
Once things got going, I was a little more interested. Sadly, I saw a lot of what happened coming from pretty early on. That doesn’t mean that it didn’t entertain me, but the fact that so much of it had already been forecast made it a little less gasp-worthy. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. In fact, that unfortunately sums up my feelings for this book: I liked it but I didn’t love it. The writing was solid and the historical aspect of it was intriguing, but the first half was slow enough that my attention wandered. The second half was more exciting, but it was almost a “too little, too late” situation. Ultimately, The Fairy Bargains of Prospect Hill wasn’t the book for me.
This would be a good read for people who want good, slower paced historical fiction and don’t mind a small splattering of fairy magic.