The Mysterious Disappearance of the Reluctant Book Fairy, by Elizabeth George ***

the mysteriousbookfairyJanet Shore is the book fairy, a librarian gifted with the supernatural ability to send another person into literature in a literal fashion. She sends them in to enjoy a specific episode, guesses at the time it will take for the event to unfold, and then brings them back. This 75 page long story is interesting, but was mislabeled as a mystery, which is the author’s principal genre; it’s really more a fantasy story. I was waiting for the mystery until toward the end, when I realized there really wasn’t one, apart perhaps from final moment, and even then, it isn’t a mystery to us. And where are my manners? Thank you to Net Galley and Open Road Integrated Media for allowing me a glimpse in advance. This story goes up for sale digitally June 16.
All is going well as long as Janet’s supernatural power is kept under wraps. Just she and a friend know. Then another person finds out and persuades Janet to come out of her book-fairy closet and advertise her services. She could “make a mint”. Janet is aghast at the vulgar implication, but the acquaintance persists. She needn’t keep the funds for her own use, she tells Janet; think of the causes she could help! So many deserving charities could benefit, all while making so many people’s—let’s face it, women’s—fantasies into the vacation of a lifetime.
But it’s too much. Tiny Whidbey Island (located off the shore of Washington State) can’t sustain this level of traffic. The locals are at first pleased at the amount of custom, then dismayed at the disruption. No one can buy anything without standing in a very long line. Their favorite quiet spots are now very noisy, busy spots.
On top of all of that, Janet is about to give out. She is exhausted, and still they clamor for more.
The voice with which this story is told is so different from the Thomas Lynley series (which I adore) that at first, I thought I had inadvertently picked up something by one of the other authors of the same name. But then, it’s set on Whidbey, where the Thomas-Lynley-George lives, and she even slips in a sly reference to Havers when discussing excellent literature. So yes, it is she.
Other reviewers thus far have been more enthusiastic about this piece if they are unfamiliar with, or don’t like, the Lynley series. For me, it took a long time to really engage. There are no chapters at all; it is just one long story, a little long for a short story, but maybe too short for a novella. I would have liked it organized, and I might also have enjoyed it more had it been told in something other than the third person. There’s too much narrative, too little dialogue.
In the end, though, I found it charming. It just took me awhile to climb on board. I was looking for a mysterious disappearance, and in this case, the surprise element, which I eventually saw coming, was a little disappointing. There’s no mystery to unravel, no detective in the mix.
In short, for those who enjoy fantasy stories, this is a winner, and it should be billed as fantasy, not mystery.

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