Family secrets, changelings, and fairies you never want to meet on a dark night.
Jess Morgan’s life has always been chaotic.
When a startling new reality cannot be denied, it’s clear that everything she believed about herself is a lie. She is linked to a world where humans – ‘hot-bloods’ – are disposable entertainment. Life on a run-down estate – her single mum’s alcoholism and violent boyfriend – become the least of Jess’s worries.
I'm delighted to be hosting the blog tour for We Other by Sue Bentley today, many thanks to the author, publishers and Rachel Gilbey from Rachel's Random Resources for inviting me and for my advance ecopy of the novel. I'm also thrilled to be sharing a giveaway for a copy of the book and a letter from the author, details on how to enter are after my review.
I'm not sure quite how to describe We Other but I can say without any hesitation that I loved this book and am already looking forward to the next instalment. Sue Bentley has combined the drama of a YA coming of age tale with the suspense of a thriller and the intrigue and magic of a fantasy novel - one which crosses effortlessly between its urban and otherworldly settings.
The book begins with a quote from Keats' 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci' which gives a poetical hint to lyricism of the story contained within the pages. Though undoubtedly a contemporary novel, We Other also has the timeless feel of folklore and of stories handed down for years which tell of the power of fey folk and the resulting trouble which ensues when they deign to mix with mortals. For these are not the fairies of childhood tales and Disney movies, the beings who inhabit Faery do not use magic, they are magic. Their Dark Court is ruled by a powerful and malevolent woman, Catelysma who demands obedience. This is a dark and twisted place where weaker creatures - including mortal children - are tortured for cruel entertainment.
Jess Morgan though has her own troubles; her alcoholic single mother has never recovered from the cot death of Jess' twin sister, Stella or the subsequent abandonment by the girls' father, Rob. Locked into a downward spiral of addiction, she has dragged her teenage daughter into a life of misery and shame. Jess is forced to search for food in the skips behind supermarkets and wear clothes found at the cheapest charity shops. Her strange allergies to chemicals and metals and her downtrodden appearance mark her as different and she is shunned by most of her college peers. When her mum's violent boyfriend turns his attentions towards Jess, it seems as though things couldn't get any worse but as she discovers long held secrets she is in more danger than she could ever imagine.
Meanwhile Caleb Farmer has to reluctantly work behind the counter of his domineering father's failing hardware store but dreams of becoming an artist. When his dad destroys his sketch book and dozens of his drawings, it seem he many never leave but a chance meeting with an irascible old woman, Ivy Stark changes his life forever.
In Faery, a hudskin called Ninka - the last of her kind - is tasked with raising a mortal baby, the latest of Catelysma's playthings. Unable to resist the infant's charms, Ninka makes a decision which could place both her and the child at a huge risk should their secret be discovered. However, she knows another deep secret which could have the power to change Faery forever.
For much of the book the three narratives are told separately, although it is obvious that they are somehow tied together. There is sometimes a risk with books with separate storylines that one will be more engaging than the other but not so with We Other. I was equally engrossed in Jess' journey of discovery, Caleb's struggles to find his place in the world and Ninka's perilous dealings. The characterisation in the book is superb, Jess and Caleb are both hugely likeable and have that necessary 'otherness' which makes them somehow relatable to anybody who has ever felt they don't quite fit in. A word here too for Ivy Stark who despite her rather spiky personality became one of my favourite characters, particularly as her full story and reason for her rather detached demeanour becomes apparent.
We Other is a beautifully written book filled with rich and vivid imagery. Whether describing the abject hopelessness of the sink estate where Jess and Alice live, the treacherous world of the Dark Court or the Gothic sadness of Windroth Hall, Sue Bentley adroitly conjures each setting from the familiar to the extraordinary. This is very clearly the first book of a series but never falls prey to the trap of too much world building at the expense of a captivating story. Though I am desperate to find out what happens next, I was engrossed throughout by this brilliant novel and highly recommend it to anybody who is looking for a book packed with magic and suspense.
We Other is published by Endeavour Venture and can be purchased here. Don't forget to check out some of the other stops on the blog tour, details are below.
You could win a copy of We Other and a personal letter from Sue Bentley, to be in with a chance enter via the Rafflecopter below (open internationally)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Twitter Instagram Goodreads