Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

The Good Fairies Of New York The Good Fairies Of New York
by Martin Millar

Supplied for review by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed By: Jacqui Smith

Humour is a funny thing, they say… and what makes one person laugh leaves another wondering where the joke is. It’s evident from the introduction that Neil Gaiman found this novel hilarious, and since I like his work, I figured the humour here ought to work for me. Well, it didn’t. Not that it’s a bad work, it’s well-crafted and clever, and has a sweet ending, but it’s too much another one of those inner city US sit-coms that just leave me cold. It is quite American in flavour, being (mostly) set in New York as you may deduce from the title, and very… urban. Classic New Zealand comedy tends more to the rural, so there’s a humour gap right there.

Two groups of British fairies find themselves, more or less, simultaneously, stranded in New York. Morag and Heather, fleeing the avenging McLeod fairies, end up with the poorly socialized slob, Dinnie, (who lives above a theatre where a production of "Midsummer Night’s Dream" is in rehearsal) and Kerry, who lives in a nearby apartment. Kerry has Crohn’s disease, a decidedly unfunny condition. You have to feel sorry for her. In fact, I found myself pitying most of the human characters in this book – which is something that gets in the way of enjoying the humour as far as I’m concerned (I can’t tolerate "Mr. Bean" for that very reason). The other fairies are fleeing the Cornish fairy king, and end up in Central Park. New York proves to have its own fairies, and there’s a fair amount of fairly amusing slapstick as various objects are passed from person to fairy and around and around.

Another thing that gets in the way of the humour is my absolute ignorance of American punk rock – a subject about which I have no desire to be enlightened. Consequently, it’s highly probable that other readers would get far more fun out of this book than I did. (And, alas, though it is about fairies, it’s not a book for children – far too many blatant sexual references and unfriendly word choices).

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